A native of Kilrush, County Clare and was known for his talents on the flute, tin whistle, and the concertina, an instrument common to his native County Clare.
Micheal became acquainted with Paddy Moloney in the mid 1950's and they established strong musical connections often by performing together in concerts, sessions, and making a number of radio programs together. He along with Paddy Moloney, Seán Potts, and Martin Fay were among the first members of Ceoltóirí Cualann besides being a founding member of the Chieftains in 1962.
He left the Chieftains in 1979, to work as an engineer. He has done some work in Ireland and some teaching at traditional music festivals. He was best known for playing the flute in a deeply compelling, traditional style.
INSTRUMENT PROFILES: concertina profile coming soon!
The flutes used in traditional Irish music are called concert flutes. These were the standard instruments found in orchestras during the 19th century, prior to the introduction of Boehm system flutes cicra 1843. They are conical-bore, transverse flutes, typically constructed of blackwood. They are played using 'simple system' (keyless) fingering or 'old system' (four to eight keys) fingering. They have a more robust and breathy tone compared to metal flutes. The picture above shows Michael playing the Irish flute.
Ceolas Irish Flute Guide
The tin whistle is a vertical fipple-flute. The fipple is the duct in the mouthpiece that directs air to produce sound. The first tin whistles of the 1800's were rolled plates of tin forming a tube, with a wooden block in the mouthpiece carved to form the fipple. Today's tin whistles are made of metals including nickel-silver, brass and aluminum. They have a range of two octaves, and are made in a wide range of keys.
The concertina was invented by Charles Wheatstone of England in 1829. It is one of the earliest free reed instruments. Wheatstone's instrument used a system of keys and bellows to produce the same range of notes as a violin. Today this is known as the English system. The concertina gained popularity in Victorian England, where it was typically used to perform classical music. The concertina was advanced by the development of new systems such as the Anglo system in 1850, providing refined sound and revised note arrangement. Anglo concertinas are commonly used in Irish music.
Thanks to Joseph Mulvanerty for the above concertina information.