Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Bit of Irish Harp History

From Guest Blogger and wonderful Celtic harpist, Eliseo Mauas Pinto, here is a brief history of the Celtic harp. This is an excerpt from his article, "Why the "Trinity Harp" is also known as the "Brian Boru's Harp?":

The "Brian Boru" harp, now at Trinity College, Dublin, bears the coat of arms of the O'Neills but although there are many theories about its ownership through the centuries, none can be substantiated, with no verifiable evidence remaining to indicate the harp's original owner, or subsequent owners over the next two to three hundred years until it passed to Henry McMahon, of Co. Clare, and finally to The Rt. Hon. William Conyngham, who presented it to Trinity College in Dublin in 1760.

Throughout its history the harp was in the possession of of many people some of which were kings.

Related Harps

The Trinity College harp is currently displayed in the long room at Trinity College Dublin. It is an early Irish harp or wire strung cláirseach. It is dated to the 14th or 15th century and along with the Queen Mary Harp and the Lamont Harp, is one of the only three surviving medieval Gaelic harps.

Related to the Trinity College Harp, there are two greatest medieval harps of Scotland, the "Queen Mary" and the "Lamont" harps. Both kept in the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.
Both “low headed” Celtic harps date from the 15th Century, and each is from a single piece of wood, possibly hornbeam, hollowed out from the back. The Lamont harp, which is unadorned, is the larger harp at 37 ½ “, with 32 wire strings.The Queen Mary is ornately carved with intricate designs, including griffins, a lion, a dragon and a unicorn, almost 31” high, with 30 wire strings. 

The Trinity College harp is the national symbol of Ireland, being depicted on national heraldry, Euro coins and Irish currency. A left-facing image of this instrument was used as the national symbol of Ireland from 1922, and was specifically granted to the State by the Chief Herald of Ireland in 1945.

A right-facing image was registered as a trade mark for Guinness in 1862, and was first used on their labels in 1876.

All three surviving Gaelic harps (the others are the Lamont Harp and the Queen Mary Harp) are considered to have been made in Argyll in South-West Scotland sometime in the 14th-15th century.

1 comment:

Eliseo Mauas Pinto said...

Therefore, I do firmly believe that the main reason for why it is called so, is for being constructed for the O'Brien's clan sake.

Let us recall regarding this point, that the descendants of Brian Boru were known as the "Ui Briain" (O'Brien) clan, hence the surnames Ó Briain, O'Brien, O'Brian etc.

Tnanks a lot for re-posting my blog! It is very encouraging to find people like you so creative and friendly... as long as we co-habitate and publish and share our heritage. a better WebNation shall be rising up on the net..isn't it?
Best Wishes and blessings as always ♪♫♪♫!