The Chieftains Paddy Moloney reflects on the last 57 years with the iconic group. 

He's the Irish folk legend who's rightly regarded as a national treasure in his native Ireland.

But Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney has revealed there's one country where the trad greats are revered far more than any other - Japan.

The veteran piper said the band's army of devoted followers in the Far Eastern country even includes members of the country's monarchy.

He said:  "Just last year we played in Japan and there's even an Uilleann Pipe association there now, which they made me honorary president of.

"They started a Chieftains fan club there, and there's a female group of players called 'The Lady Chieftains!'

"The Japanese Empress even came to a recent concert and whole streets got shut down.  She studied at Trinity [Trinity College Dublin], and learned the Irish harp and knew our music, which was a great honor."

Read more: Paddy Moloney on 55 years of life with The Chieftains

The Dublin-born 'Chieftain-in-chief' reflected on the highlights of 57 years with the six-time Grammy-winning folk outfit in an in-depth interview in the latest edition of Ireland's Own.

And despite recently turning 80, the grandfather-of-four said he remains as enthusiastic about the music as he did when he first formed the band together in 1963.

"I just love the buzz when we're all on that stage," he said.

Reflecting on the many highlights of his memories with the multi-award-winning outfit, he said a number of past performances stand out, including being the first musicians to perform on the Great Wall of China, participating in [Pink Floyd's] Roger Waters' historic 'The Wall' concert in Berlin in 1990 and performing to an audience of 1.3million in Ireland during the 1979 visit of Pope John Paul II to Ireland.

Although the trad legends have gone on to record 50-plus albums in their six-decades-long career, Moloney stressed that their success did not happen overnight and came about through hard work and dogged determination.

Read more: "We're not giving up" - Paddy Moloney on The Chieftains' 55th Anniversary tour

He added: "When I started to put the band together it took me a long time to get the sound complete with the instruments that traditional music was composed for.

"We got opportunities in the 1970s and management encouraged us to get drums and guitars and I said 'no'.  As the song goes, we'll do it our way.  And I did it my way - to achieve, and get across our music. 

"If you believe in something that you have great respect for - the music itself - then do it the way you want to.  It won't happen overnight, but stick at it - you will get there."

The Chieftans, Paddy Moloney.