Cherish The Ladies

“It is simply impossible to imagine an audience that wouldn’t enjoy what they do,” says the Boston Globe speaking of Cherish the Ladies, the long-running, Grammy-nominated, Irish-American super group that formed in New York City in 1985 to celebrate the rise of extraordinary women in what had been a male-dominated Irish music scene.  Over the past three decades, they have toured the world, played the White House and the Olympics and recorded 17 critically acclaimed albums.

Under the leadership of All-Ireland flute and whistle champion Joanie Madden, named by The Irish Voice Newspaper as one of the Top 25 most influential Irish Americans of the past quarter century, these ladies create an evening that includes a spectacular blend of virtuoso instrumental talents, beautiful vocals, captivating arrangements, and stunning step dancing.  Their continued success as one of the top Celtic groups in the world is due to the ensembles ability to take the best of Irish traditional music and dance and put it forth in an immensely entertaining show.

The New York Times calls their music “passionate, tender, and rambunctious,” and the Washington Post praises their “astonishing array of virtuosity.” They’ve won recognition as the BBC’s Best Musical Group of the Year and named Top North American Celtic Group at the Irish Music Awards and not to mention having a street named after them in the Bronx!  They’ve collaborated with such musicians as The Boston Pops, The Clancy Brothers, the Chieftains, Vince Gill, Nanci Griffith, Pete Seeger, Don Henley, Arlo Guthrie and Maura O’Connell as well as being the featured soloist with over 280 nights of symphony orchestras.

The level of artistic, historic, and purely enticing entertainment is unlike any in its genre. As their reputation and admiration from both fans and critics alike continues to grow, Cherish The Ladies blazes forward into another decade of music making.

Cherish Heart Cottage

JOANIE MADDEN Born in New York of Irish parents and raised in a musical household, her mother hails from Miltown Malbay, County Clare and her father Joe, an All-Ireland Champion accordion player was a native of Portumna, County Galway. At a very early age, Joanie was exposed to the finest Irish traditional music listening to her father and his friends play music at family gatherings and social events. She began taking lessons from legendary flutist and National Heritage Award winner Jack Coen, and within a few short years, she had achieved great success winning the world championship in Irish music on both the concert flute and tin whistle. During that time, Joanie also became the first American to win the coveted Senior All-Ireland Championship on the whistle.

Joanie  Madden has sold over 500,000 solo albums and has performed on over 200 recordings, including three Grammy-winning albums running the gamut from Pete Seeger and Sinead O’Connor to the Boston Pops. Throughout her musical career, she has amassed a plethora of awards and citations. Her merits include being the youngest member inducted into both the Irish-American Musicians Hall of Fame and the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Hall of Fame, she was chosen for the Wild Geese award, where she joined an impressive list of previous honorees, including: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, Tony award winning playwright Brian Friel, Nobel prize laureate Seamus Heaney and Irish dance sensation, Michael Flatley.

Irish America Magazine selected her twice as one of the Top 100 Irish-Americans in the United States and she was also named Traditional Musician of the Year by the Irish Voice newspaper, all for her contributions to promoting and preserving Irish culture in the United States. In 2010, Joanie was forever immortalized on the streets of her native Bronx when a street was named after her on the Grand Concourse: “Joanie Madden and Cherish the Ladies”. In 2011, she was bestowed one of the nation’s highest awards as she was chosen for the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, joining an illustrious list of distinguished American citizens, including six United States Presidents as well as Ambassadors, Senators, Congressmen and Supreme Court Justices, all singled out for their exemplary service to the United States. In 2012, she was a recipient of the esteemed USA Artist Fellowship grant, singled out as one of the most innovative and influential artists in America, becoming the first Irish traditional musician to do so. In 2013 she won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Music Awards and also named Grand Marshal of the Yonkers parade in New York.  In 2015, Joanie was named Clare Person of the Year by the County Clare Association in New York and also the recipient of the Turlough O’Carolan Award for her musical legacy. In 2016, Irish America Magazine named Joanie as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Irish Women in the world.

MARY COOGAN was born in New York and raised in a musical household. She is a founding member of Cherish the Ladies. Her mother came from Castlerea in County Roscommon and her father Jim was a great accordion player whose parents emigrated from County Waterford. Her father passed down his love of Irish music to Mary and she became a self-taught guitar, mandolin and bouzouki player. In addition to her outstanding musical talents, Mary also holds her masters degree in education and was named in Who’s Who among American Teachers. She has a number of recordings including a beautiful solo album entitled; “Christmas” and also one with her father called “Passing Time”, but her close ties to children pushed her to make a wonderful collection of music with her great friend Kathy Ludlowe for our young fans entitled, “The Big Ship Sails.” She continues to teach music to children in New York and is a highly sought-after accompanist. Acoustic Guitar Magazine named Mary one of the top four Celtic guitarists in Celtic music.

Cherish The Ladies- Murphy Boys Planxty Johnston

Cherish The Ladies- Murphy Boys Planxty Johnston

MIRELLA MURRAY grew up in Claddaghduff on the north west coast of Connemara in County Galway. Her father John Joe, a notable sean nós dancer, came from Inishark Island and had a deep understanding and love for traditional music. Mirella studied the piano accordion with Mary Finn and it was at music classes that she met up with fiddler Liz Kane from Letterfrack. Mirella won the accordion All-Ireland championship and duet All-Ireland championship with Liz Kane.

Mirella teamed up with the great fiddle player Tola Custy from Co. Clare and they recorded, “Three Sunsets”, which was voted one of the top five albums of the year by The Irish Times Newspaper. Mirella performed at the International Women’s Day Festival in Moscow; was featured in the Galway Arts Festival and toured Austria, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Spain and France. She was a featured soloist in the off Broadway production of the late Johnny Cunningham’s theatrical production, “Peter & Wendy”, an adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” which garnished two OBIE Awards.

Mirella also has an incredible flair for teaching, and it is a credit to her musicianship that twenty-two of her pupils have gained All-Ireland titles. She has accumulated a vast store of tunes from her travels, and musicians such as Sharon Shannon, Lunasa and the Bumblebees credit her as a source for many uncommon melodies.

KATHLEEN BOYLE from Glasgow, Scotland comes from a family steeped in the traditional music of Donegal. Her father Hughie is a talented musician and handed down his love of music to her. Kathleen is a talented pianist and accordion player and has won All-Scotland and All-Britain titles on both instruments.

In 1999, Kathleen made history as the first graduate gaining a degree in traditional music from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She is in great demand as a teacher and lecturer on both accordion and piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music and The Irish Academy of World Music in Limerick University.

She has performed at Holyrood Palace for His Royal Highness Prince Charles and for Irish President Mary McAleese; Kathleen’s travels with Cherish the Ladies and Dochas have taken her around the world with tours of the UK, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Sweden, America, Canada and China. Dochas, were voted best new comers at the 2004 Scots Traditional Music Awards and nominated as best folk band in 2006. Kathleen’s first solo album “An Cailin Rua” or “The Red Haired Girl” was released to rave reviews in 2008. Her latest recording, “Back to Donegal”, is an album she recorded with her father and family members.

NOLLAIG CASEY is one of Ireland’s most gifted musicians, with her own unique way of playing traditional Irish music on the fiddle and has such a distinctive sound that it would be impossible to mistake it for that of anyone else. This “sound” is so attractive to other musicians that there exists hardly any major Irish artist of the last thirty years with whom she has not worked – and many international artists have been equally entranced.

A graduate from University College Cork with a Bachelors in Music Degree at the exceptionally early age of nineteen, she embarked upon a professional career first joining the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra where she remained for three years until she joined the ground breaking Irish band, Planxty.

In addition to her work with Cherish the Ladies, Nollaig has recorded and worked with Enya, Van Morrison, Sinéad O’Connor, Nanci Griffith, Ricky Skaggs, Rod Stewart, Dónal Lunny, Mary Black, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, Carlos Nuñez, Jim Rooney, Andy Irvine, Moving Hearts, The Indigo Girls, Spandau Ballet, Christy Moore, Liam O’Flynn, Dan ar Bras, Sharon Shannon, Maura O’Connell, Dick Gaughan, Paddy Keenan, Máirtín O’Connor. She can also be frequently found performing with her husband, legendary guitarist Arty McGlynn and along with her sisters, Máire and Mairéad as the Casey Sisters.

Nollaig has toured the globe with a wide variety of artists in Ireland, the U.K, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Libya, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Japan, the U.S.A., Australia and New Zealand.

Cherish the Ladies always travel with the finest Irish dancers that include World Champions, National Champions along with Riverdance and Lord of the dance alumni!

Find Out More About Cherish The Ladies On

Festival Postponement

WAF Colour LogoWith a heavy heart we have had  to postpone the festival and filming in response to the current Covid numbers and transmission rates in Ireland, unfortunately it is the responsible and only choice right now.

We were always confident it was doable based on the knowledge we had at the time of announcement, however the current trajectory is a different playing field to anything prior. While we are very disappointed to have to push the Wild Atlantic Fleadh to next year, the health and safety of our performers and crew has to come first.

One positive outcome of moving the Fleadh to 2022 is that we can combine the planned online event with a live and in person event, which was always our long term goal.

The new date for the Wild Atlantic Fleadh in 2022 will be announced in due course. In the meantime anyone who purchased tickets to this year’s Fleadh will be refunded in full via their Stage It Account. Any concerns or questions regarding the status of their refund should be directed to

We will be in touch and we are so sorry this step had to be taken

Kind Regards

The Wild Atlantic Fleadh Team