Matt Molloy is an Irish flute player from Ballaghadereen, County Roscommon. He is known for his rapid, fluid and highly-ornamented flute playing in the Sligo/North Roscommon Style. With a background in the traditional music of his region, Molloy became a member of several influential Irish music groups. He joined The Bothy Band, a traditional Irish band, in 1976, contributing to their distinct sound until their disbandment in 1979.
Growing up in a region famous for its fiddle and flute players, Molloy was deeply influenced by the musical environment. His family had a rich musical heritage, with his father, uncle, and grandfather also being flute players. This familial connection to music, particularly the flute, played a significant role in Molloy’s early interest in the instrument.
Molloy began playing the flute at the age of 8 and demonstrated his talent by winning the All-Ireland Flute Championship at 19. He moved to Dublin in the mid-1960s, immersing himself in the music scene and forming connections with influential musicians like Paddy Moloney. In 1979, he joined The Chieftains, a notable Irish band, replacing Michael Tubridy.
Molloy’s career was marked by his involvement with prominent Irish music groups. He was a founding member of The Bothy Band and later played briefly with the re-formed Planxty. His innovative style, which blends traditional techniques with piping, has significantly influenced contemporary Irish flute playing.
In addition to his group involvements, Molloy has released several acclaimed solo albums and collaborated with various artists, including Paul Brady, Tommy Peoples, Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, Dónal Lunny, and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. His work earned him the title of Traditional Musician of the Year at the 1999 TG4 National Traditional Music Awards.
Beyond his musical achievements, Molloy is also known for owning Matt Molloy’s Pub in Westport, County Mayo. This pub, famous for its lively Irish music sessions, has become a cultural hotspot, featuring performances by many musicians, including Molloy himself. He has even recorded a live session album there.
Photo: Chris Boland