Honored February 5, 1994
Matty Connolly was born in New York City and moved to Ireland with his family when he was just six years old. Hew grew up in the Scotstown area of Co Monaghan in the midst of a very musical family. His mother, Mrs. Helena Connolly, was and still is a noted fiddle player and it is her he credits in large part for his background in traditional Irish music. There was always a lot of Irish music played on various instruments in his house when he was growing up.
Matty however decided to play the uillean pipes when he first heard the renowned Co Fermanagh piper Sean McAloon. Through the efforts of the Rev. Bernard Maguire (then curate now canon) a pipers group was formed in our Lady of Fatima hall in Knockatallon. Five of that group went on to play and master full sets. Matty played at house parties and with many groups at feiseanna and other gatherings and enjoyed it all. Then in the early 1960’s Matty like many others he knew, found himself on board the steamship bound for his place of birth in the United States.
When he arrived in New York he was amazed at the high standard of music he heard. They used to have an annual boat ride up the Hudson River to Bear Mountain. It was on these outings he met the staunch men and women who had managed to keep the music going and the torch alive. Matty had trouble finding people who played the uillean pipes or who know how to maintain them. This posed a big problem for him and he stopped playing them completely for about eight years. During these years he channeled his musical talents in other directions and in 1963 formed the Majestic Showband, which included his sister Mary, his brother Peter, brother in law Arthur Sherry, Martin Mulhaire and Johnny Hanley. They were the resident band at the Red Mill in the Bronx, playing three nights a week for ten consecutive years. In 1970 at the invitation of John C. Mulligan and the late Louis E. Quinn, he joined the Mineola branch of Comhaltas, under the chairmanship of John C. Mulligan.
One of the many highlights of Matty’s musical career came at the 1980 Fleadh Cheoil in Buncranna Co Donegal, where he won the senior all Ireland uilleann pipe championship. The following year, 1981, he was a member of the Comhaltas tour of the U.S.A. and Canada. In 1986, he was honored by the American Irish Musicians Society (AIMS) for his commitment and dedication to the music. He has played many festivals and conducted many workshops throughout the United States and Canada. He has also given freely of his time to many worthy causes and benefits over the years. He resides in Richmond Hill Queens with his lovely wife Bridget and their children Brian, Matthew, Patrick and Deirdre, all of whom love and play the traditional music of Ireland.