"I was very determined to spread the gospel of this great folk art," Moloney said.
The scope of the band's success and lasting legacy is enormous: six Grammys and more than 50 albums. The band's fans include everyone from Anjelica Huston to Irish-American astronaut Cady Coleman (who played a solo on Moloney's pennywhistle in space; the band included it on the new album).
Moloney, whose conversations are filled with entertaining anecdotes of his life and travels, talks casually of "turning up" at the house of the late Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones in 1966 and chatting with actor Peter Sellers as The Chieftains records played in the background.
He also recalls being 5 and listening to his grandfather playing flute in a "small little country cottage" in Ireland, while the neighbors accompanied on various instruments.
"They would knock on the door, unannounced. No telephone, no electricity for God's sake," Moloney said, laughing. "They'd start dancing and the dust would go up and that would go on all night."
For "Voice of Ages," Moloney has recreated that impromptu jam session in the little country cottage. He wanted all surviving band members from days past and present -- he's dubbed the newer members "baby Chiefs" -- to play one long song. "The Chieftains Reunion" is an 11-minute tune that brings everyone together.
It was Burnett who suggested working with the indie music scene on the other tracks. In fall 2011, Moloney traveled back and forth from Dublin to Los Angeles to make the 15-track record.
Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops said she was in awe the first time she had a conversation with Moloney: "I couldn't believe who I was talking to."
Giddens, who plays banjo, fiddle and kazoo, said she has long been fascinated by the intersection of Irish music and black string music. The result on "Voice of Ages" is "Pretty Little Girl with the Blue Dress On," an upbeat and soaring tune.
A Chieftains European tour begins at the end of May and runs into June. The band will then play festivals in San Francisco, Vancouver and Nova Scotia. There's a winter tour scheduled in Japan and China, and after that, Moloney will return to Florida and the beach, with his family and flute.
Retirement? Not likely.
"My wife was asked about 10 years ago, 'Is he ever going to stop?' " Moloney said grinning. "She said, 'Well, I think he's in rehearsal for retirement.' "