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Mike Preston, 1926–2008

Stalwartsofny
Stalwarts of New York [Back row: Felix Dolan, piano ; Joe Madden, accordion ; Martin Mulhaire, accordion ; Larry Reynolds, fiddle. Front row: Mattie Connolly, uilleann pipes, Mike Rafferty, flute ; Monsignor Charlie Coen, concertina ; Mike Preston, flute ; Jimmy Kelly, drums] / Unidentified photographer. New York, 2000s. Image courtesy Joanie Madden

Though musically a thorough Clare man, flute player Mike Preston (1926-2008) was born in Ballymote, County Sligo before his father relocated the family to Crusheen to take up work on the railroad.

Mike would follow his father’s line of work, but his true vocation was as a member of the Tulla Ceili Band, with whom he played for ten years before emigrating to America in 1961. After a short time in Boston, Mike moved to the Bronx, where he lived until his death. The Tulla band’s trip to New York in 1958, when they played at Carnegie Hall and recorded an LP, was Mike’s first introduction to the city. On his return to New York, however, most of Mike’s music making would be done at private parties and informal sessions. Not until the Irish traditional music revival that began in the 1970s would he be featured on recordings and in performances at concerts and festivals. The capstone of his musical career was a reunion with the Tulla Ceili Band when the group toured the east coast of the U.S. in 1997.

The duke of Leinster, reel / Mike Preston, flute. Recorded by Terry Rafferty at the Catskill's Irish Arts Week, New York, 1992.

Blarney Star group, 2001 / Paul Keating
Blarney Star group, 2001 / Paul Keating
Blarney Star group. Photo taken at a concert in honour of Mike Preston, 2001 [Back row: Willie Kelly ; Antóin Mac Gabhann ; Martin Reilly Jnr ; Mick Moloney ; Marie Reilly ; Brian Holleran ; Linda Hickman ; Dermot Grogan ; Felix Dolan ; Joe Madden ; James Keane ; Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin. Front row: Mick O'Brien ; Don Meade ; Mike Rafferty ; Mike Preston ; Martin Mulhaire ; Patrick Ourceau] / Paul Keating. New York, 8 June 2001. Image courtesy Don Meade.
 
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Blarney Star group, 2001 / Paul Keating

Blarney Star group, 2001 / Paul Keating

Blarney Star group, 2001 / Paul Keating

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