Putting St Audoen’s on the map

The Historical Harp Society of Ireland prepared a programme for an evening of rare 16 th -18 th century Gaelic harp and vocal music with the title ‘Mac-talla nan Dun: Echoes of a Gaelic Chieftains’ Castle’. This was an opportunity to hear the Irish harp, Ireland’s national emblem (not the shamrock), and to see in replica the ‘Brian Boru’ harp, Ireland’s only surviving medieval harp, played in the old manner with fingernails by Siobhán Armstrong, who played for the Queen in the library of Trinity College where the Brian Boru harp itself is preserved.

Siobhán Armstrong founded the Historical Harp Society of Ireland in 2002, to support a revival of the playing and building of the early Irish harp. It was played by immensely skilled, high status musicians in the Gaelic courts and later in the great houses from the early Middle Ages until its demise in the early 19 th century.

Carved from a single log of timber, strung with brass, silver or even gold, whose resonating strings were selectively damped, the extraordinary sweetness of the Irish harp was described in glowing terms by early writers.

Cf. Natalie Surina www.irishharp.org

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