He has been a member of several influential bands. In 1994 he was awarded the BBC Young Tradition Award, and, in 2001, he was given the Instrumentalist of the Year award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
McGoldrick was a founder-member of Celtic rock band, Toss the Feathers while still at school. He also competed in the Fleadhanna with Dezi Donnelly (fiddle) and John-Jo Kelly (bodhrán) whom he had met at local Comhaltas meetings. He made appearances at various local and national festivals and has run whistle/flute workshops at the Cambridge Folk Festival and for Folkworks on their "Flutopia" concert tour.
McGoldrick formed the band Fluke! (later renamed as Flook), with Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen in November 1995. After one tour, he left to pursue other projects. He was an early member of Lúnasa and played on their first two albums.