Paddy Moloney, a co-founder of the Irish folk band The Chieftains, has died at age 83.
The Irish Traditional Music Archive confirmed his death Tuesday on its website, describing how the musician "made an enormous contribution to Irish traditional music, song, and dance."
Born in 1938, Moloney grew up in a musical family in Donnycarney, a suburb just north of Dublin, Ireland. He formed The Chieftains in 1962 and although he initially never intended for the project to become a full-time thing, he ended up leading the group for over 50 years, according to NPR. They toured the world, and in doing so, popularized Irish music.
The band's last show was in 2020, during a St. Patrick's Day celebration in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They were on tour when the pandemic forced them to cancel all remaining dates.
"Paddy, with his extraordinary skills as an instrumentalist, notably the uilleann pipes and bodhrán, was at the forefront of the renaissance of interest in Irish music, bringing a greater appreciation of Irish music and culture internationally," said Irish President Michael D. Higgins.
"His legacy will remain with us in the music which he created and brought to the world," Higgins added.
Tributes to Moloney have been flooding social media since news of his death broke. Among those honoring his memory was Irish flute legend James Galway.
"It is with great sadness to hear of the passing of my very good friend and colleague, Paddy Maloney," he wrote on Twitter. "A man with a vision and passion on bringing traditional Irish music to the masses for which we are forever indebted to. Such wonderful memories for which I shall always cherish."
Van Morrison joined Galway in leading the tributes.
"So sorry to hear of the passing of fellow Irish musician Paddy Maloney. He was a great musical talent, we shared many laughs together and his legacy will endure," he wrote in a tweet.
Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May added: "So sad to hear of the passing of our dearest Paddy Moloney. He was ours wasn’t he. He made us all so proud of our heritage and brought such joyous energy. I’m honoured to have known and worked with not just a legend but a thoroughly lovely man."
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