Centered around the virtuousic fiddling of Northampton, England-born and New York-raised Brendan Mulvihill and the emotional button accordion playing of Brooklyn, New York-born Billy McComiskey, the Irish Tradition is one of the most influential Irish bands in the United States. Their two albums on the Green Linnet label -- The Corner House, released in 1978, and Makin' The Rounds, released in 1981 -- have been a major inspiration on the growing popularity of traditional Celtic music in North America.
Mulvihill and McComiskey first came together as the Irish Tradition to perform during a week-long celebration of Irish music at Washington, D.C. pub, The Dubliner, in January 1975. When McComiskey, who was taught to play button accordion by family members and Sean McGlynn, was asked to assemble a band for the event, he immediately thought of Mulvihill and County Kerry-born guitarist/vocalist Andy O'Brien. The son of a noted fiddler and music teacher, Mulvihill, who won the All-Ireland senior fiddle competition in 1974, had been a regular player at Irish music sessions since moving to Washington, D. C. the following year. The Irish Tradition became a more permanent fixture when the one-week celebration led to a five night a week gig that lasted four years. The trio became so enthusiastic about playing together that they would host jam sessions at another Washington, D.C. pub, The Benbow, on their off-nights. The sessions spawned a number of other Irish-American bands including Celtic Thunder, the Hags and the Boiling Spuds.
The Irish Tradition's two nationally-distributed albums -- The Corner House, released in 1978, and The Times We've Had, released in 1985, were produced by Irish guitarist Mick Moloney, who often joined the group during their performances. Moloney also co-produced McComiskey's solo album, Makin' the Rounds, in 1981. Mulvihill has released two solo albums -- The Flax in Bloom, released in 1979 and The Morning Dew, recorded with pianist Donna Long and released in 1992.