Patty Furlong: Biography
Traditional Irish Music surrounded me while I was growing up in the Bronx. Every Saturday and Sunday mornings, Dorothy Hayden’s Irish music program was blasting on the radio. My dad played the D/C button accordion around the house and at the social clubs but encouraged my sisters and me to play “American music”. We went to Jerry Mulvihill for Irish dance class and to his cousin Martin for music where I started on the piano accordion; which pleased my dad as he considered it as an American instrument. Music took over as I would come home from class, learn the tunes on the piano accordion then re-learn it again on my dad’s button box. After 2 years of relearning tunes on his box, my dad gave in and said OK – we will get you a button accordion so you can leave mine alone. My grand aunt purchased a huge red 9 coupler Paolo Soprani on High Street in Killarney. I remember being so happy that as I did not have to deal with 120 basses; just 8. I could easily manage 8 basses!
Martin Mulvihill was an amazing teacher, travelling hours to teach so many young students while bringing us over to compete at the Fleadh in Ireland. I placed three times in Ireland (1st in button accordion, 1st in a trio and 3rd in a ceili band but more important than the competitions were the friendships that developed. At one point, my duet partner was Rose Conway (Flanagan) while my trio partner included Margie Mulvihill. I never would have thought that I would continue to have a great friendship while playing and teaching Irish music with Rose and Margie. The social scene during our childhood was Irish music and dance. Irish music and dance allowed our parents to connect to their Irish roots so every week-end we attending a feis. This allowed our parents to meet up with their Irish friends while the children spent the day playing tunes and having fun.
I was fortunate that my parents encouraged me to play music and dance. I am also extremely grateful to those who influenced my playing including my dad, Martin Mulvihill, Nicky and Anne McAuliffe, Joe Madden, Billy McComiskey, Jackie Daly, John Whelan and John Nolan.
I have been lucky to perform with such great groups including the original Cherish the Ladies, the Chieftains, Atlantic Bridge, Coolmagort and the Pride of Moyvane. Music allowed me to tour Alaska, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland and the US. I have taught at various music schools including Elkins (West Virginia), Swannanoa Gathering (North Carolina), O’Flaherty Musical Retrieval (Texas) and Scoil Eigse (Ireland). I am certified by CCE to teach music after completing the TTCT course. I have adjudicated at Fleadh Cheoil naH Eireann, the Midwest qualifying Fleadh and various feiseanna throughout the US.