Doherty, Michael (Mickey) (1894–c.1967), traditional fiddler, was the third son and sixth child among five sons and four daughters of Michael ‘Mickey’ Doherty (c.1850–1934), musician and tinsmith, also known as ‘An Dochartach Mór’, of Lettermacaward, Co. Donegal, and Mary Doherty (née McConnell; b. 1859) of Ardara, Co. Donegal. The Dohertys claimed descent from the hereditary pipers to the clan chieftains of Donegal. Mickey's father played the Highland pipes and fiddle; there were also traditional fiddlers on his mother's side. Tarlach Mac Suibhne (qv) (1818/32–1916), uilleann piper of Gweedore, Co. Donegal, was a great-uncle. (A useful family tree is reproduced in Feldman & O'Doherty, 36, cited below.) Mickey learnt tinsmithing from his father and made containers of all kinds and sizes, travelling in parts of south Donegal to sell them from house to house. He also made and mended fiddles, often of a combination of metal and wood.
Mickey, like his youngest brother John (qv), learnt some of his music outside the family, particularly from Neil O'Boyle, a fiddler from near Dungloe. He was also influenced by recordings of players from outside the county. Mickey did not play in the open air for money, but rather at house dances, which were common until the 1950s. In addition to dance tunes – highlands (tunes in 4/4 time), hornpipes, jigs, marches, and reels – Mickey also played some elaborate descriptive pieces such as ‘The hound after the hares’. His rhythmic method of playing has been described as perfect dance accompaniment, whereas John's style is considered more suitable for a listening audience. Mickey and John, like their maternal uncles Mickey McConnell (1863–1918) and Alec McConnell (1871–1933), often played duets.
In January 1949 Caoimhín Ó Danachair (qv) and Seán Ó hEochaidh (qv) of the Irish Folklore Commission (IFC) were working in the Blue Stack mountains, Co. Donegal, recording in a house where Mickey and his wife were staying. Over two evenings they recorded on disc what was the earliest and largest body of tunes collected from him, a selection of which was later released commercially on double cassette (CBÉ 002 (1990)). Not recorded on this occasion were the more commonplace germans (barn dances) and mazurkas in his repertoire. After the first recording by the IFC, Mickey was recorded by the BBC, Radio Éireann, and many others. In addition to his playing, folk narrative and information about the tunes were collected from him. Partly through these recordings, but more particularly through broadcasts, his music has had a very strong influence on the playing of new generations of musicians.
Doherty married (1915) Mary Rua (b. 1896); while their children were of school age they lived in Meeting House St., Ballybofey, and later at Árd McCool, Stranorlar. He died, probably on 14 May 1967, in the house in Stranorlar in which he and his wife had settled towards the end of his life. He was buried in the Doherty family plot in Fintown cemetery, Co. Donegal. In 1990 Cairdeas na bhFidléirí placed a stone memorial to him at Éadan Anfa near the fiddler Peadar ‘ac Ailín's house in the Blue Stacks where the Dohertys spent much time. Mickey's half-length photographic portrait by Caoimhín Ó Danachair (1949), the original of which is in the Irish folklore collection at UCD, is reproduced on the inset of his cassette.