Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Secret to a Relaxing Road Trip--Turn the Harp Music On

Anne Roos Playing in County Galway, Ireland
As a Celtic harpist performing for decades (feels like a gazillion years), I completely agree with guest blogger, David Drasnin--Here, he shares his love of harp music and a wee bit of harp history, too. Go to my website to sample the sound of this wonderful instrument, and if you still aren't convinced, read David's travel thoughts:

"People throughout the ages have always been fascinated by the idea of a trip, a journey. Perhaps it was centuries ago, when the first ships sailed off to conquer unknown lands, often taking musicians on board. Or maybe it was that nice weekend road trip you've planned, taking along your favorite CDs. Music is always part of the human experience.

If you are looking for relaxing music for the road, I think Irish harp music is an excellent choice.

Even if we take a closer look at history, it is obvious that harp players were always bound to the road, ever since Medieval times, when many bards played harps. Originally, the bards were poets, usually hired by a nobleman, in order to commemorate a special event while also providing a form of entertainment for himself and his guests. Later, for political and social reasons, the role of the bard was to travel about the land. One of the most notable of was Turlough O'Carolan, a blind harpist bard of the 17th century who traveled throughout Ireland to share his music. He is considered a prominent national Irish composer.

Today, you can take the bard along with you, just as travelers have done throughout the centuries. No wonder music works so well on a road trip.

For me, there is nothing more pleasant than listening to the magical, soothing sounds of an Irish harp while on the road. It almost seems incongruous to link the mechanical power of a car with traditional Irish harp music, which comes as if from the depths of time itself, almost out of place with the modern world. But I think that this is precisely the beauty of it--Celtic harp music evokes images of the world from centuries ago, and when I listen to such music, I imagine the atmosphere, the sights, and the colors of that world, as described in books I have read. This very mixture of the past and the present is what fascinates me. It's as if listening to the sounds of an ancient instrument heard many years ago makes everything fall into place. It's as if in a single moment, on the road, you know you are going exactly where you are supposted to go, as if you are travelling on the right track.

If this hasn't convinced you to listen to harp music in your car on your next road trip, just go online and search performers of this exquisite instrument. You'll see how music by harpers like Alan Stivell, William Jackson, Loreena McKennitt, Patrick Ball, and Anne Roos can enhance your travels."

--Special thanks to David Drasnin, a frelance writer and a sworn music fan from London. He loves talking about cars and his favorite tunes. Fortunately, while he is drafting vehicle towing articles, he also dedicates his free to creating entertaining articles about his true passions--cars and music.

Would you like to share your love of Celtic culture, Celtic music, and Celtic harps? I'm always happy to feature guest bloggers. Contact me through the email address on my website at to submit your article.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Visit to the Trinity College Harp

Guest blogger Jason Hall shares his experience of visiting the Trinity College harp:

"I recently had the good fortune to visit Ireland, the old country of some of my ancestors, and, like any good cultural historical tourist, I visited the Trinity College Library. They're famous for a collection of old and rare books. While most of Europe was soaking in the Dark Ages, Celtic monks kept learning alive and paginated. I walked though the dim rooms, viewing the Book of Kells and other illuminated incunabula. 

Then, I emerged as from a dark wood to view that willow instrument to familiar from teh cans of Guinness stout. The Trinity College harp  was enclosed in glass, as sensitive to heat, moisture, and light as the manuscripts. It is stringless now and stouter than any beer, in delicate appearance, even for a clársach. I don't know when it was last actually played, but I imagine it has a bit of that clangy resonance I love so dearly.

The Trinity College harp was claimed to have belonged to 11th century Irish king Brian Boru, although it more likely dates to the 15th century. Still, it is one of only three surviving medieval Gaelic harps, and the only one in Ireland. It outlasted other contemporary or earlier instruments and became the national symbol of Ireland.

While we were visiting Dublin, my mom got a tattoo of the harp:

Special thanks to guest blogger Jason Hall, author and Brand Manager for Budget Rent a Car (Brisbane, AU). He enjoys traveling immensely, as well as sharing his travels with others.

Would you like to share your love of Celtic culture, Celtic music, and Celtic harps? I'm always happy to feature guest bloggers. Contact me through the email address on my website at to submit your article.