I will be giving the following presentations at these events:

Somerset Folk Harp Festival

22 – 25 July, 2021

The Early Irish Harp: an introduction and demonstration

Curious about the early Irish harp? See and hear a demonstration on a replica of an historical instrument. This workshop will introduce you to the harp that entranced listeners in Ireland and Scotland for centuries. Strung with metal strings, it has an enchanting resonant sound, with a long sustain. We’ll cover the basics of how it is tuned and played, and where you can find resources such as instruments, music, and lessons.

Touching History: the harpers’ marks on the early Irish harp

Although the historical harpers are long gone and can’t be here to show us how they played their instruments, they left behind visible wear showing where their hands and wrists (and feet and legs too!) rubbed against the soundbox, how they replaced strings, and even how they adjusted the position of the harp to play it. See for yourself, and inform your own explorations of playing style. This workshop will include demonstration and discussion of how to interpret the harpers’ wear marks.

Scoil na gCláirseach - Festival of Early Irish Harp

25 – 29 July, 2021

Queen of Music: the early Irish harp

The early Irish harp enjoyed a position of high status in Gaelic society, and has endured as an emblem of Ireland for centuries. In this presentation, we’ll explore what made this musical instrument special, see evidence of its importance on the surviving old harps, delve into its music, and trace its history as Ireland’s emblem.


31 March – 3 April, 2022

Harps and Science: rediscovering the historical Irish and Highland harps


Scientific analysis has made possible significant discoveries that are changing our understanding of the historical harps of Ireland and Highland Scotland, and bringing musical instrument makers closer to building new harps that sound and behave like their historical counterparts. This talk will explore these discoveries, and the significant impact scientific analysis has had on our understanding of these instruments.


A Survey Of DF: 1986.2, the National Museum of Ireland Hollybrook Harp


Project Leader: Dr Karen Loomis

Research Associate: Simon Chadwick 


Commissioned by the Historical Harp Society of Ireland (HHSI)

This project was made possible by a grant from the Arts Council of Ireland
with the generous in-kind support of the National Museum of Ireland
and the project participants, Karen Loomis and Simon Chadwick.

The Hollybrook harp survey provides an accessible database that harp makers can use to construct informed replicas of the Hollybrook harp, an 18th-century Irish harp. These instruments will help musicians pursuing historically informed performance of Ireland’s musical heritage. The project also contributes to the caretaking of Ireland’s material culture by reducing the need for future physical handling of this historic harp.

The Historical Harp Society of Ireland has made the database files available for download as a free resource.


Visit the project page on the HHSI website, or go directly to the project database.