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The Chieftains are one of the historical groups of the Irish folk revival.

Chieftains (Claddagh, 1963) introduced the historic line-up of Paddy Moloney (pipes), Micheal Tubridy (flute and concertina), Sean Potts (tin whistle), Martin Fay (fiddle) and David Fallon (bodhran). Chieftains 2 (Claddagh, 1969) and Chieftains 3 (Claddagh, 1973) simply evolved the style towards a more and more original interpretation of the tradition. Chieftains 4 (Claddagh, 1973) represented the peak of this evolution, both in the jigs (Cherish The Ladies) and in the ballads. Chieftains 5 (Claddagh, 1975) was a more commercial effort, but the melodic fantasy Bonaparte`s Retreat, on the eponimous Bonaparte's Retreat (Claddagh, 1977), may well stand as their ultimate artistic manifesto.

Chieftains 7 (Claddagh, 1977) was perhaps even too perfect, each track being a medley of original and traditional themes. Chieftains 8 (Claddagh, 1978) closed the second phase of the band. Chieftains 9 (Claddagh, 1979) open the third one, with Matt Molloy on flute and the hit The Boil The Breakfast Early. Chieftains 10 (Claddagh, 1981) closed this phase.

By now the Chieftains were international stars and were collaborating to numerous soundtracks, later compiled on Reel Music (RCA, 1991).

Their albums became less and less interesting, more and more predictable. Irish Heartbeat (Mercury, 1988) was a collaboration with Van Morrison. Another Country (RCA, 1992) was a tribute to Nashville's country music. The Long Black Veil (RCA, 1995) was a collaboration with Sting, the Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, Mark Knopfler, Sinead O'Connor, etc. Tears of Stone (BMG, 1999) and Water From The Well (BMG, 2000) have very little to commend them.

Down The Old Plank Road (RCA, 2002) is an all-instrumetal session recorded in Nashville with some of country music legends.

The historical concept San Patricio (2010) was a collaboration with Ry Cooder.

Voice of Ages (2012) celebrated the band's 50th anniversary with a long list of guests: Bon Iver, the Decemberists, T-Bone Burnett, etc.

Paddy Moloney died in 2021.

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