Honored February 16, 2008
Brendan Mulvihill, a renowned fiddler born to Irish parents in Northampton, England, is the eldest of four children (Brendan, Brian, Gail, and Dawn). His mother, Olive (nee McEvoy) hails from County Offaly and currently resides in Glin, County Limerick. His father, fiddler Martin Mulvihill of Ballygoughlin, County Limerick, was a National Heritage Fellow and one of the most highly respected Irish music teachers in America. The six Mulvihills immigrated to New York in 1965.
Brendan first learned to play the fiddle from his father in the Bronx at age 12. He went on to study with Pete Kelly of County Galway. In the 1970s Brendan traveled to Ireland and England playing throughout the country and building a repertoire of tunes. In 1972, he won the All Ireland Fiddle Championship. In 1975, Brendan returned to New York, where he played with accordion player Billy McComiskey of Brooklyn and singer/guitarist Andy O’Brien of County Kerry. The three moved to Washington, DC as The Irish Tradition and became a seminal influence in traditional music, helping to establish it as a permanent and integral part of Washington’s musical fabric. In 1977, Brendan and Billy traveled back to Ireland to win the All Ireland Fiddle/Accordion Duet Championship.
More recently, Brendan appeared at the Éigse na Laoi at University College, Cork, Ireland in 1993 and again in 1995. Brendan toured the country in 1994-95 as part of the Masters of the Folk Violin tour sponsored by the National Council for the Traditional Arts. In 1998 Brendan played in the PBS broadcast, Performance at the White House, for President and Mrs. Clinton and their guests.
In 2005, Brendan received the Maryland Traditions Folk Arts and Culture Apprenticeship Award for teaching the art of traditional Irish fiddle playing in Maryland. Brendan continues to spend his time teaching, playing, and composing music. He lives with his wife Abbie, and their 7 year old daughter Ciara in Silver Spring, Maryland.