Mollimór, including Mullingar native, Frank O’Dowd (left) Kate Haines and Ben Sim.

Mullingar man returns from Australia to perform at Fleadh Cheoil with his band Mollimór

Sarah Slevin

A Mullingar musician who has gone from growing up in Ginnell Terrace, Mullingar to playing music in Traralgon, Australia, returns with his band to perform at this year’s Fleadh Cheoil.

Frank O’Dowd left Mullingar in 1988 for Australia, and there became part of a Celtic/Irish band called ‘Mollimór’.

“I come from a musical family,” Frank said. “My father Frank played accordion while most of my siblings can carry a tune. Many years ago, my father actually played in house parties at Moynihan’s with founding members of Comhaltas.”

Frank said that he became more interested in Irish trad music once he moved to Australia and set up the band.

“What eventually became Mollimór started in the early ’90s when a group of work colleagues got together to play some music in the Annual Mental Health staff Cabaret style shows,” Frank said.

“We were encouraged to continue performing our music. This eventually led to forming The Molly Maguires. In 2016 we changed the name to Mollimór to better reflect the type and style of music we play,” Frank said.

Mollimór confirmed that they will join in the musical entertainment during the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Mullingar from July 31 to August 7.

“We’re thrilled and honoured to be given the opportunity to perform at this year’s fleadh. We applied in time for 2020 until Covid-19 intervened, and now we are now raring to go,” Frank said.

“We are scheduled to play on the main gig rig at 9pm on Monday August 1, which will likely be our biggest gig. We have also lined up a further three gigs playing outdoors at Mullingar Arts Centre. No doubt we will play in sessions on the streets,” Frank added.

Frank, who provides vocals and guitar for the band, will be joined on the trip by two members, Kate Haines (accordion) and Ben Sim (fiddle, vocals).

“Kate joined us in late 1999 and she brought a wealth of Celtic tunes to add to the mix not to mention fine musicianship,” Frank said.

Ben Sim, who joined the band at the age of 13, is musical director at a school in Victoria.

“Ben managed to get special leave from his job to attend and participate in the fleadh as part of a cultural exchange programme. He has made links with the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM),” Frank said.

As well as playing music from Ireland, the band hit on styles of music from Asturias and Galicia in northern Spain.

Mollimór have played in numerous folk festivals throughout Victoria in Australia, including the National Celtic Festival, and performed at the opening of the new 750-seat Gippsland Performing Arts Centre.

The band also has produced their own original material and more information can be found here.