Honored Friday, February 18, 2000. R.I.P.
It is an honor for Comhaltas to recognize one of the fine old gentlemen in Irish music who first graced these shores over 38 years ago when he left his native Ireland to live in America. Touching down in Boston for a few months where his uncle lived, Mike and his wife Dodo soon made their way to New York in 1962 where they have lived in the Bronx ever since.
Originally from Ballymoate, Co. Sligo his father Mike – also a fine flute player – moved the family to Clare where he worked on the railroad. Living in Crusheen he would soon be part of one of Clare’s most enduring musical legacies, the Tulla Ceili Band.
Before leaving Ireland Mike Preston had a very distinguished musical career as a member of the Tulla Ceili band from 1952-1962. While in the band he was an acclaimed flute player on two All-Ireland Champions in 1957 and 1960 and the Tulla in their storied rivalry with their cross-sounty neighbors the Kilfenora Ceili Band came but half a point behind the Kilfenora in 1956. In 1958 Mike made his first visit to America when the band toured and made a St. Patrick’s Day appearance at Carnegie Hall. He was featured on their first recording for Dublin Records Echoes of Erin, made in New York on that trip.
In 1997 the Tulla Ceili Band added to their 50 year history with a memorable appearance at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center that was documented by PBS, visited with mayor Rudolf Guiliani at City Hall and capped off with a Yonkers ceili that drew 600 people to the Polish Hall. It was a special reunion for Mike and Martin Mulhaire after almost 40 years since they immigrated to America. Last year the Tulla with Mike and Martin in their ranks were invited to play at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center’s “Midsummer Night Swing for the Irish” night.
Even with all those highlights to look back on, Mike Preston remembers foremost those lovely get-togethers in Jack Coen’s home in Woodlawn or Mike Rafferty’s home in Hasbrouck Heights when the music and spirits from home flowed freely and lovingly til the early hours. Very often joining Jack, Raff and Mike were Sean McGlynn, Joe Madden, Mattie Connolly, and Felix Dolan, , who were already in the CCE Hall of Fame. Now Mike preston is among that august band again.