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Acadamh na gCláirseach–Academy of Early Irish Harp

Winter Programme, 5 February – 12 March, 2022



Rediscovering the early Irish harp: history and craftsmanship

This course takes an in-depth look at the early Irish harp as an historical musical instrument. We will explore its history and craftsmanship through investigation of the surviving instruments and study of historical source material. Course participants will learn about the materials and construction methods used to make these harps, how to examine an historical instrument, and how to interpret and use that information. Participants will also learn to observe and interpret evidence of historical repairs, modifications, and signs of use. Course sessions will include interactive activities, and assignments to work on during the week to further explore the course material and develop skills and understanding.

Scoil na gCláirseach - Festival of Early Irish Harp

23 – 29 July, 2022

WORKSHOP (Monday, 25 July)

Hands on Harps – What do Player Wear-Marks on the Old Harps Reveal About How They Were Played?

TALK (Tuesday, 26 July)

The How’s and Why’s of Early Irish Harp Making

Somerset Folk Harp Festival

21 – 24 July, 2022

TALK (30 July, post-festival weekend)

Harps and High Tech: unlocking the secrets of Ireland and Scotland's harps

What did harps sound like in Ireland and Scotland centuries ago? Come and explore how new technology is being used to investigate historical instruments. See and hear how recent discoveries are helping to reconstruct a lost sound world, as new harps come ever closer to recapturing the historical craftsmanship of the last surviving instruments from an ancient tradition.


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.

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