An Irish goodbye is when someone leaves a party without letting anyone know.
The Chieftains’ tour is dubbed “The Irish Goodbye.” Does that mean that the venerable Celtic band is on its final jaunt but refuses to address its future? Is the current run the swan song for the beloved Dublin group?
“No, it doesn’t mean that,” multi-instrumentalist Paddy Moloney said during a telephone interview from his Dublin home.
Then why call the tour “The Irish Goodbye?”
“Somebody dreamed that up,” Moloney said. “We are getting up there. I’ll be 81, but I still have a lot left in me as far as performances go.”
But if The Chieftains decided to call it quits, no one could blame the band. Moloney formed the ensemble 57 years ago.
“It all started a long time ago,” he said. “It’s been an amazing career with so many highlights. I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
The traditional Irish band has sold millions of albums, won six Grammy Awards and an Oscar for the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon.”
Ireland’s musical ambassadors are among the most well-respected bands of the past century.
An array of iconic figures have performed with The Chieftains, ranging from the Rolling Stones to Dolly Parton and Sting.
“We’re fortunate, since that list just keeps going on and on,” Moloney said.
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“We do a montage of photographs of people we recorded and toured with during this show,” he added. “When I look back at some of the people who have joined us — from Roger Daltrey to Elvis Costello to Willie Nelson — it just amazes me. We’ve been so fortunate as musicians and as people, since we’ve become friends with some of these legends.”
Moloney has been pals with Mick Jagger since 1968.
“I had a cottage in Wicklow and Mick and Bianca Jagger used to come by,” he said. “I remember my mother, who was 83 at the time, would serve them tea and scones in the afternoon. Mick is unlike anybody else. We recorded ‘Long Black Veil’ with him, and it’s one of my favorite things we ever did.”
Bodhran player Kevin Conneff and flutist Matt Molloy have each been with the Chieftains for more than 40 years.
“They’ve experienced much of what I have, and I’m so fortunate to have them with me,” Moloney said. “When we come into Iowa, the fans will be treated to Matt’s expertise on the flute. It’s fun to watch Matt, and the same goes for Kevin. We’re still doing it. We’re still making memories. God knows I have a lot of memories stored in my mind.”
One of Moloney’s favorite experiences was recording with Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder in 1980. The two rock legends were working on “Rainclouds,” the B-side of “Ebony and Ivory,” on McCartney’s “Tug of War” album.
“They brought me in,” Moloney said. “It was an incredible experience. The only thing was, I was there in the studio when John Lennon was murdered. I’ll never forget Paul’s look of complete and total shock. What a nightmare to take somebody so brilliant from the world of entertainment.”
Not long after that experience, Moloney selected an unknown dancer from Chicago to join The Chieftains and as a result, added to the world of entertainment. That performer was Michael Flatley, who became the star and creator of “Riverdance.”
“That’s just one of the many wonderful things that came out of The Chieftains,” Moloney said. “When I think about all that we’ve experienced, I’m just so proud.”
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The animated octogenarian has so much energy and it’s hard to imagine him pulling the plug on The Chieftains, despite the moniker of the band’s tour.
“I still have something left to offer,” Moloney said. “Now is not the time to stop.”
• What: The Chieftains: “The Irish Goodbye”
• Where: Hancher Auditorium, 141 E. Park Rd., Iowa City
• When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (3/4)
• Run time: 90 minutes, no intermission
• Tickets: $45 to $65 adults, $10 to $58 students, $10 to $32 youths; Hancher Box Office, (319) 335-1160, 1-(800) HANCHER or <URL destination="https://hancher.uiowa.edu/2019-20/Chieftains">Hancher.uiowa.edu/2019-20/Chieftains
</URL>• Artists’ website: Thechieftains.com