The Chieftains music has been used on numerous film soundtracks.
They have won several awards, including an Oscar for their work on Barry Lyndon.
The band have featured on big Hollywood blockbusters like The Gangs of New York, historical dramas like The Year of the French, and numerous film and TV documentaries.
Women of Ireland and the Barry Lyndon soundtrack
One of the tracks on Chieftains 4, recorded in 1975, was a piece called Mna na hEireann, which means Women of Ireland. It was written by Sean O Riada and arranged by Moloney.
It was to become an Oscar winner for The Chieftains after it caught the attention of film director Stanley Kubrick. He used Women of Ireland on the soundtrack of his film, Barry Lyndon starring Ryan O’Neal and Marisa Berenson.
The film was released in 1975 and now, after all these years, the soundtrack by The Chieftains is the thing for which it is best remembered.
Tristan and Isolde – a 9th century Irish story
Tristan and Isolde was the first film the band played on and was notable, among other things, for the way Moloney blended the uilleann pipes with a symphony orchestra.
The story wasn’t the Wagner version. It was based on the original Irish story from the 9th century.
Unfortunately, the film, which starred Richard Burton, was never released but the music was incorporated into the band’s repertoire.
The Purple Taxi – a French and Irish film
In 1977, The Chieftains provided the music for the joint French-Irish film, The Purple Taxi (Un Taxi Mauve) which was directed by Yves Boiset and based on a novel of the same name by Michel Deon.
It starred Peter Ustinov and Charlotte Rampling, and was entered into the Cannes Film Festival.
Irish music for The Year of the French
In 1982, the Irish TV company, Radio Telefis Eireann joined forces with their counterparts in French television to produce a film called The Year of the French, based on the novel by Thomas Flanagan.
The band also appeared as musicians in the film. They were basically just playing their instruments as they normally would but technically, it could be said to mark their acting debut.
Chieftains music wins a Canadian ‘Oscar’
The band won a Genie Award, the Canadian equivalent to an Oscar, for their music on the soundtrack of a film called The Grey Fox starring Richard Farnsworth.
The film told the story of the train robber Bill Milner.
The Ballad of the Irish Horse
In 1986, the National Geographic produced a film called, Ballad of the Irish Horse.
The film recounted the history of horses and horse breeding in Ireland.
The Irish connection to the Gangs of New York
The Chieftains played some of the music on the soundtrack to The Gangs of New York, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo diCaprio, Daniel Day Lewis and Cameron Diaz.
The film told the story of battles between Irish immigrants who formed into gangs in New York in the middle of the 19th century.
Incidentally, the film also featured music by Irish singer and musician, Finbar Furey.
Circle of Friends – a film set in Ireland
This film, released in 1995, starred Minnie Driver and Chris O’Donnell. It was set in Ireland and told the story of a group of university friends.
It was based on a novel by the Irish writer, Maeve Binchy.
It feature two tracks by The Chieftains – Dublin, and You’re The One.
Rob Roy – Irish music for a Scottish film
Rob Roy was set in the Highlands of Scotland and told the story of the Scottish folk hero who terrorised the local nobility.
The film starred Irish actor Liam Neeson, John Hurt and Jessica Lange, and featured a Chieftains track called O’Sullivan’s March.
Setting sail for Treasure Island
The Chieftains performed the full soundtrack for this retelling of the old pirate story.
The soundtrack included some of The Chieftains’ own compositions which they still perform as part of their concert repertoire.
The tracks include, Loyals March, Setting Sail, French Leave and Treasure Cave.
Far and Away – a story of Irish immigrants in the US
Far and Away starred Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. It told the story of two Irish immigrants trying to make their way in 1890s America.
The Chieftains performed a track written by John Williams called Fighting for Dough. It was used in a scene involving bare-knuckle fighting.