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Mick Moloney

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Mick Moloney
Moloney in 2008
Moloney in 2008
Background information
Born(1944-11-15)15 November 1944
Limerick, Ireland
Died27 July 2022(2022-07-27) (aged 77)
Manhattan, New York City, US
GenresTraditional Irish, folk
OccupationsMusician, songwriter, folklorist
InstrumentsVocals, tenor banjo, mandolin, octave mandolin, guitar
Years active1964–2022

Michael Moloney (15 November 1944 – 27 July 2022) was an Irish-born American musician and scholar. He was the artistic director of several major arts tours and co-founded Green Fields of America.

Early life[edit]

Moloney was born in Limerick, Ireland, on 15 November 1944.[1][2][3] His father, Michael, was the head air traffic control officer of Shannon Airport; his mother, Maura, worked as the principal of a Limerick primary school.[2] Moloney first played tenor banjo during his teenage years.[4] He studied at the University College Dublin, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics.[2] He then relocated to London to be a social worker assisting immigrant communities,[2] before joining the Johnstons. After playing with the group for five years, he immigrated to the United States in 1973. He initially settled in Philadelphia and eventually became an American citizen.[3]


Three years after moving to the US, Moloney co-founded Green Fields of America, an ensemble of Irish musicians, singers, and dancers which toured across the US on several occasions.[3][4] He also served as the artistic director for several major arts tours. One of these was the 1985 festival in Manhattan titled "Cherish the Ladies" to highlight female musicians in the area of Irish traditional music, which had been dominated by men until that decade.[2][4] He produced an album for the female group by the same name titled Irish Women Musicians in America. The group's leader, Joanie Madden, was one of several future fellows of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to be mentored by Moloney.[2] He produced and performed on over 70 albums and served as advisor for numerous festivals and concerts across America,[3] with ethnomusicologist and musician Daniel T. Neely putting the figure as high as 125 albums.[2]

Moloney undertook postgraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, obtaining a master's degree before being awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in folklore and folk life in 1992. He went on to teach ethnomusicology, folklore, and Irish studies at Penn, Georgetown University, and Villanova University.[2][3] He was also global distinguished professor of music and Irish studies at New York University until his death.[2] In recognition of his work in public folklore, he received a 1999 National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA.[5]

In addition to music performance, Moloney wrote Far From the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish American History Through Song, which was published by Crown Publications in February 2002 with a supplementary CD on Shanachie Records.[6] He hosted three nationally syndicated series covering folk music on American Public Television.[2][7] He worked as a consultant, performer, and interviewee on the RTÉ special Bringing It All Back Home, and was also a participant, consultant, and music arranger for Out of Ireland, a documentary film by PBS. Moloney performed on the PBS special The Irish in America: Long Journey Home.[8]

Personal life and death[edit]

He was married three times over the course of his life. His first marriage was to Miriam Murphy. His second marriage was to Philomena Murray. Together, they had one child. They eventually divorced. His third marriage, to Judy Sherman, also ended in divorce.[9][10] He was in a domestic partnership with Sangjan Chailungka at the time of his death. During his later years, he divided his time between Bangkok – where he resided with Chailungka – and his apartment in Greenwich Village.[2][3] In Bangkok, he volunteered as a music therapist and teacher for abandoned children with HIV at the Mercy Center in the Khlong Toei slums, which was founded by the Redemptorist priest Joseph H. Maier.[2]

Moloney died on 27 July 2022, at his home in Manhattan, having played at the Maine Celtic Festival less than a week before. He was 77; the cause of death was not announced.[2][3][11]



  1. ^ "Mick Moloney: Irish Musician". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. n.d. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Schweitzer, Vivien (1 August 2022). "Mick Moloney, Musician and Champion of Irish Culture, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Davison, Phil (29 July 2022). "Mick Moloney, champion of Irish music, dies at 77". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  4. ^ a b c "National Endowment for the Arts Statement on the Death of National Heritage Fellow Mick Moloney". National Endowment for the Arts. 28 July 2022. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  5. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 1999". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  6. ^ Moloney, Mick (2002). Far from the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish-American Immigration Through Song. Crown Books. ISBN 978-0-609-60720-6.
  7. ^ "If It Wasn't for the Irish and the Jews: Irish and Jewish Influences on the Music of Vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  8. ^ Byrne, James Patrick; Coleman, Philip; King, Jason Francis, eds. (2008). Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History – a Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. ABC-CLIO. p. 605. ISBN 978-1-85109-614-5.
  9. ^ "Mick Moloney obituary: Accomplished musician and folk music academic who had a huge influence in preserving and enhancing traditional music". independent. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  10. ^ "Mick Moloney obituary: Banjo player and scholar with a driving passion for traditional and folk music". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  11. ^ Liam, Morrison (28 July 2022). "Mick Moloney, Traditional Irish musician and scholar passes away at 77 – Death". SNBC13.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  12. ^ "2000 Grants". Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  13. ^ "2013 Presidential Distinguished Service Awards". Department of Foreign Affairs. Government of Ireland. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  14. ^ O'Brien, Tim (13 October 2013). "Winners of Presidential awards for Irish abroad named". The Irish Times. Dublin. Retrieved 2 August 2022.

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