Margie Mulvihill

Honored April 2, 2011 

Born in New York, Margie is the oldest child of Mike and Peggy Mulvihill, both from North Kerry. Margie has two brothers, both lieutenants with the New York Fire Department.   She was thrust into the Irish music and dancing scene at an early age by her granduncle and popular dancing teacher Jerry Mulvihill, and their cousin and fiddle legend Martin Mulvihill.  Though starting lessons early in life, she feels it was her mother’s stories and her passionate singing of mostly rebel songs that she learned from her mother (Margie’s grandmother, a member of Cumann na mBan) that instilled in her both a deep love for Ireland and all things Irish and an abiding love for the music.  In those early days, she went to Ireland many, many times with family and on several occasions, with Martin Mulvihill himself and the All-Ireland winning Glinside Ceili Band. 

Margie stayed and worked in Ireland for a time and was there during the time of the Hunger Strikes, a painful time in Irish History she’ll never forget.  Her parents came home to Ireland to encourage her to return to the US to continue her schooling.  It wasn’t long before she was running around from session to session with friends like Don Meade, Peter Grew, the late Bob Cleary, the late Johnny (accordion) Cronin, Timmy Whelan and of course Carmel Glendon (now Carmel Johnston).  Margie and Carmel eventually met up with Kerry singer Mary Courtney, and together formed the group Morning Star.  They played festivals and concerts all over the country and even provided music for Harold Prince’s play Grandchild of Kings, where they met many stars of stage and screen. 

She never thought Morning Star would last for more than a couple of years, but the group remained together for twenty.  Many musicians passed through the band’s ranks as members over the years, and she still has the opportunity to play tunes with most of these old band mates, many of whom are still active on the trad scene. One of these members became her husband.  Margie met John Reynolds at a mutual friends wedding in 1996, where they were both invited to play.  It was a brief first meeting – she didn’t see him again until Mary asked him to fill in for a couple of gigs a couple of years later – but he later joined the group full time and was a member for five years.  The two eventually married. 

Those days with Morning Star were the craziest of good times, especially around Bainbridge Ave – the old Village Pub, the Phoenix and elsewhere.  But her best and most rewarding work as a musician was yet to come.  After she’d left Morning Star, she took up the wooden flute and studied the great Mike Rafferty’s style.  She got tunes from Mike directly, through his albums and through several cassette tapes he made for her, and she excelled on the instrument.  Later on, she began sharing the music with a couple of local children.  Her reputation as a exceptional teacher grew quickly and in a way she never dreamed could have happened.  This experience teaching led her to playing at céilithe, a source of joy she and John participate in frequently. 

Although she loves teaching alone, she’s found teaching with friends – including former Martin Mulvihill students Patty Furlong and Rose Flanagan, as well as longtime session mate Frankie McCormick– particularly rewarding.   Although you can hear Margie (and John’s) musical influence in all of her students, it is most clearly found in the playing of Margie’s daughters Erin (fiddle and whistle), Blaithin (box, also member of Girsa) and Neidin (singer, whistle, banjo, and lately the guitar) — and even their son John Paul, who has started taking fiddle lessons from Rose Flanagan.