Honored February 15, 2003
The 58 year-old Limerick native came to the U.S. and Philadelphia, in particular, in 1973 and the Irish music scene has not been the same since. In those thirty years he has distinguished himself as an academic folklorist achieving a Doctorate for his Ph.D. Dissertation Irish Music in America: Continuity and Change while weaving a very important role as record producer, festival and summer school organizer, and accomplished performer in his own right. Taking full advantage of the improving technology in the 1970s and a heightened awareness and interest in Irish culture, Mick was a trailblazer in recognizing the richness of Irish traditional music in America and the people who played it and he documented it in every medium he could find. He took it from a private artistic expression to a very public one, often exposing it on the very finest stages in the country elevating the music and garnering the overdue recognition it deserved. In 1976, he organized 26 musicians and dancers to represent Irish America during the Bicentennial for a one-week celebration on the Mall in D.C. as part of the Smithsonian Institute’s Festival of American Folk Life. Following that his seminal Green Fields of America touring group brought traditional Irish music and step dancing all over America for more than two decades and laid the groundwork for performance shows like Riverdance to succeed. His inspired vision allowed audiences everywhere to see the oral tradition of Irish music, dance, song and storytelling taking place right before their very eyes as he blended well-seasoned musicians with the most talented youngsters who shared Mick’s respect for their older masters. His critical role in placing the spotlight on the older musicians like Jack and Charlie Coen, Ed Reavy Sr., Mike Rafferty, Mike Flynn along with many others and his mentoring encouragement of Seamus Egan, Eileen Ivers, Jerry O’Sullivan and one of his most enduring legacies Cherish the Ladies under the direction of star pupil Joanie Madden are well recognized elsewhere. Moloney has already been acclaimed a National Heritage Fellow at the White House in 1999 and the Pew Fellow in the Arts in 2000 for his comprehensive work in the Irish American community. With his induction into the CCE Mid-Atlantic Hall of Fame we echo those achievements and add our respect to a most deserving trustee of our Irish musical heritage, Mick Moloney.
– Paul Keating