Harps Around Ireland
The Harp is the Symbol of Ireland, but ...
The harp is the symbol of Ireland, It represents Erin's mythology, its beginnings of human life here, its poetry, its music, its sacred magic and even it's most famous brew.
For all this many visit Ireland without seeing a harp, and seeing a harp actually being played is more unlikely. Its even harder to find a singer, poet or storyteller being accompanied by a harp ...
... but this is changing.
Harps Around Ireland is a project to not only showcase harpers in Ireland and harpers visiting Ireland but also the venues that we are campaigning to increase where songs, poems, stories and harps can be enjoyed together inspired by traditions new, within the last 400 years, and ancient, within 6000 years. We also wish to showcase the harp makers and restorers in Ireland, many of whom do not have an online presence yet.
We celebrate all of this this through our Words And Harps Day at Misummer and a few days of Words And Harps Day School for a few days before this.
This is a page to bookmark and return to if you have a passion for what is offered here as this is one that I will probably develop more than others I write
About The Celtic Bards
Many people see the Bard, often in movies and told of in fairy tales, as being an entertainer playing the harp, singing and reciting poetry at feasts and celebrations. The actual bard's role was to guide the people in some way.
In earliest times a chieftain could not be a chieftain without also being a bard. The position of king, druid, seer and bard was once the role of one person. King David with his harp in biblical texts as an example image of that role.
Eventually these tasks became positions of 2 people then 3 people, 4 people
and eventually more.
A Bard's position became one of being reporter and healer through stories, historian and clan genealogist through memory, and motivator and praise giver through inspiration and encouragement.
Celtic myth stories tell us of the three strains of bard performance,
these being "sorrow", "joy" and "sleep".
It is said these three strains were performed in that sequence to aid a course of medicine and healing, thr words and music often being the medicine.
The sorrow strain was played to make the listener cry in deep sorrow.
The joy strain played to make the listener laugh and release
and be illuminated by the presence of spirit
The sleep strain was to assist those present
to fall into a deep healing slumber
and walk with their great spirit as guide, protector and healer.
Even in a home fireside ceili today, a tradition almost died,
these three strains are shared by those present.
Actually it is four strains.
First is a catch up of local chat, like bardic messengers
Second is the joy and celebration of the day after a couple of drinks
Third is the sorrow and melancholy of those not with us
Fourth is the ailing fire, prayers and blessings before we enter slumber.
Timeline Of Harps & Bards
Earliest origins of harps in Ireland is hard to define.
There are myth legends of Tuatha De Dannan harper bard landing from the sky
There is another Tuatha De Dannan legend of Cian wooing Eithne by playing the fine rib bones of a skeleton of a beached whale this inspired the idea of creating harps.
Other Tuatha De Dannan legends of Dagda's Harps
and his deeds with them are quite famous
There are tales of harps arriving in Erin from the ancient lands of Iran and how Iran and Erin come from the same word inspired by its harp and bard links.
The MacFirbis Book of Genealogies mentions three more great Tuatha de Danann musicians
Ceol, meaning music
Bind, meaning sweet
Tetbind, meaning sweet strings
and MacFirbis mentions these were under the training of a harper bard
called Uathne, who's name means harmony.
There are tales of the first harps of the Tuatha De Dannan being made from rowan, later with willow sound boxes and oak pegs. These were know as Coarran, a word very closely related to Coirinn meaning a place of the fairies and close to Coire, a sacred place for council and celebration with the presence of the goddess.
Then these evolved into tales of a harper called Coarran or Coarran who was the first to practice and teach the three strains of sorrow, joy and slumper.
Unfortunately, there are very few historic harps preserved in Ireland, but Egypt does have preserved harps from 2000 B.C., from around the time of Rameses II. It is most likely that harp players, their skills and their descendants travelled north of the Mediterranean, particularly from what is now northern Turkey, and across to Ireland.
More info of these lengends then onto a known timeline of the earliest harps, harpers and their music will be added here soon ......
co-writer Robin Williamson is perhaps best known as a founder of Incredible String Band, Celtic storyteller and honorary Chief Bard of The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.
The famous our of print but very collectible Robin Williamson book. Get it while you can.
The Role Of Harper Bards Today
The ancient harper bards' main job appears to have beento tell an appropriate story at an occasion or even an event in an individual's, family's or clan's life. Such a thing could be telling a story behind a name given to a newborn at a naming ceremony.
We can use how we tell stories today, of the old myths, for modern situations,
the events of today.
With love anxiety situations we can tell the various stories of Grainne, especially parts of the famous Diarmuid and Grainne story.
Passing through and overcoming mourning can be assisted with the hero passing stories of Lugh's father Cian or the fall of CÃº Chulainn from The Tain story, Cattle Raid of Cooley.
Overcoming bullying and intimidation with parts of the story of the Second Battle Of Moytura caused by the bullying of the Formorians and their puppeted high king, BrÃ©s.
Even overcoming anxiety of upcoming job interviews with the the story of how Lugh got into Tara and was surprised to be appointed as co-ordinator at the Second Battle Of Moytura.
I will cover this topic in greater detail and bardic guidance as well as entertainment has a huge potential still for protecting, healing and guiding people today ...
Harpers Around Ireland - our growing directory of performing harpers in Ireland
please click the harper links below for more information
about bios, recordings and live performances
- Orla Fallon
Orla Fallon became known on the world stage as a founding member of the Celtic Woman show .After leaving Celtic Woman in 2008 to go solo, Orla has performed a PBS holiday special in the USA, "Ãrla Fallon's Celtic Christmas" that was syndicated all ov
- Cormac De Barra
Cormac De Barra, harper and television presenter, is the third generation of harpers in his family. As a traditional harper, Cormac has recorded and toured with his brothers FionÃ¡n and Ãamonn and has performed with many musicians including fiddle pl
- Claire Roche
singer harper based in Blackrock, Co. Dublin where she was also born. Claire composes songs, has converted classical Irish poetry into songs and music, performs many Irish traditional songs and tunes, and some spiritual songs too. Claire has been ac
- Mike Absalom
singer harper now based in Co. Mayo. Mike was a very popular performer around Europe as a folk singer and humorous songwriter during the 60s and 70s. He took up the Celtic harp in Canada through the 80s and then moved onto Paraguyan harps. Today Mi
Harp Makers Around Ireland
please click the harp maker and supplier links below for more information
about their craft, supplies and services
- Dagda's Harps
are harp maker Coleston Brown and artist Jessie Skillen Together they are unique and different to any other harp makers we will feature within our Harps Around Ireland series. Their intricate and delicately decorated small harps and lap harps tuned
Venues For Harpers Around Ireland
- Woodford House, Blackrock, Co. Dublin
located in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. in Ireland. It started as a stables and became a house. Claire Roche took over Woodford House and took charge of its renovation with an intent to provide a place of retreat and embracing entertainment for awhile. Wo
Coming To Harps Around Ireland Soon ...
Many more harpers and harper bards showcased here
Being showcased here, within the Harpers Around Ireland chapter, will be many more wonderful singers, poets and storyteller that use the harp to accompany, and many stunning harp playing instrumentalists too. Most of these will have expanded lenses about what they perform and where you can experience them too.
Many venues for harpers and harper bards showcased here
Also being showcased here will be more venues in Ireland where these wonderful words and harps people perform, along with a drive to create more venues such as in people's homes. The dinner followed by words and harps evening is always a stunning night out.
Many harp makers, teachers and harp distributors, harps parts distributors
and harp music suppliers showcased here
For the benefit of harpers, and those who wish to become harpers, I will showcase more of the makers and the teachers around Ireland.
Of course, growing information about our
Words And Harps Day and School each midsummer.