Annie McNulty Award presented to famed musician Mick Moloney

The 2007 Annie McNulty Award presentation, the highlight of another successful South Roscommon Singers Festival, was presented to renowned musician Mick Moloney in a packed Widow Pat’s public house in Knockcroghery on Friday night.    This year’s award was a beautiful commissioned painting of Annie McNulty, with the Kilteevan native set against a background featuring local landmarks. The painting was the work of artist Philip Brennan.    Annie McNulty was born Annie Brigid Burke in Kilteevan in 1887. She later emigrated to the USA and established a ‘showbiz family’ which performed with huge distinction for several decades in the USA.    Friday night’s festivities included a concert which featured a number of guest musicians, including Mick Moloney.    Mr. Declan Coyne of the South Roscommon Singers acted as Master of Ceremonies. He thanked main sponsor Cllr. Paddy Kilduff for his continued support of the Festival. He also acknowledged the support of John and Eithne Murray and that of Tony and Mary Coyne. Mr. Coyne said that Paul Healy, Editor of the Roscommon People, had been a great supporter of the Festival and had again sponsored the main award. He also acknowledged the support of Roscommon County Council through the Arts Office.    A most enjoyable concert preceded the presentation of the Annie McNulty Award. Artists performing included a two-piece group, Sinamandia, made up of two South African ladies who are now based in Galway; Jim Kearney; Con ‘Fada’ O’Drisceoil; Chris Miles; Patsy Hanly; Courtney Grogan (one of a number of descendants of Annie McNulty who travelled from the USA to attend the event); Tom Brady and special guest Mick Moloney.    In one memorable ‘set’ Mick Moloney was joined by Tim Collins and Tim’s wife Claire, Con ‘Fada’ O’Drisceoil and Patsy Hanly.    The Annie McNulty Award presentation then followed. Mr. Hugh Baxter (committee) introduced the presentation of the award by recounting details of Mick Moloney’s remarkable career to date. Mr. Moloney is a renowned folklorist, musicologist, arts presenter, record producer, professional musician and college professor.    Mr. Baxter explained that the award recipient holds a Ph.D. in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania and currently teaches in New York University. He has recorded and produced over forty albums of traditional music and helped produce and direct numerous festivals and concerts in America.    Presenting the award, Patricia Grogan, grand-daughter of Annie McNulty, said that she had a vivid image from childhood of Annie McNulty, a tiny woman ‘with great exuberance’ who filled the room with music. ‘She (Annie) would have loved giving this award to Mick Moloney, like her he shares that 110% love of the music, and he’s also a lovely guy!’    Mick Moloney paid warm tribute to the huge impact the McNulty family had made in the USA. He spoke of the incredible determination of Annie McNulty who encouraged her young children to perform in Broadway and then recovered from the early death of her husband to estabish a successful career ‘in a man’s world.’    Stating that he was humbled to receive the award, he said that anything he had achieved in the USA was down to the musicians who had gone before him (in America). He said that after the success of the McNultys Irish music had gone through a low period in the USA and ‘old-timers’ had feared for its future as the music became largely confined to houses. However a new wave of musicians had emerged over the past twenty years or so.    ‘I always admired ‘Ma McNulty’ and I think this is a wonderful award,’ he said in conclusion.