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Thursday, 10th October 2019

Louth events among highlights of National Harp Day

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The Music Generation Louth Harp Ensemble photographed at An Grianan, Termonfeckin.

Saturday 19th October is National Harp Day and Harp Ireland, Cruit Éireann, invites harpers and people interested in the harp to join in celebrating Ireland’s 1,000-year-old tradition.

This is the third year that this national event has been held in honour of our national instrument, and it will feature harps sounding loudly from dawn to dusk throughout the country including several events in County Louth.

From Derry to Dingle, from Belfast to Ballyvourney the wonderful sound of harp playing will resound at concerts, sessions, pop-up sessions, talks and demonstrations of harp making.  

“We’re calling on everybody to come out and celebrate the harp with us on National Harp Day” says Aibhlín McCrann, Chair of Cruit Éireann, Harp Ireland.

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“It’s exciting times for the harp here in Ireland; many more people are playing the harp, the demand for Irish-made harps is growing, and you hear a lot more of the harp at festivals and concerts, in workshops or at sessions. Not only that, we have harp-players all over the world now taking an interest and getting involved with us on this very special harp day.

National Harp Day 2019 is a particularly exciting day for us as the Irish Harp is being considered for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage designation, which if we are successful, will be announced in December. So we want to raise awareness of our unique harp tradition, share its  music and make sure that we celebrate it at every opportunity”.

National Harp Day is Cruit Éireann’s initiative to promote Ireland’s national instrument, encourage more people to learn the harp, attract new audiences and recognise the harp’s unique place in Irish musical and cultural life. This year, over fifty harp events will take place throughout the country and internationally, with associated harp events taking place virtually with our harping friends in the UK, Scotland, France, the USA and New Zealand.

Music Generation Louth (MGL), supported by Create Louth, will host an afternoon concert at St. Nicholas' Church of Ireland, Dundalk from 2-3pm.  Music Generation Louth Harp Ensemble will perform along with some special guests including 2019 Senior Harp Champion Fionnuala Donlon.

In the past the MGL Harp Ensemble have delighted in performing for Vice President of USA, Joe Biden and Ambassador Kevin F. O Malley at the ambassador’s residence in 2017. 

They have also performed at several festivals including Cairde na Cruite’s International Harp Festival in Termonfechin and Féile na Tána in Carlingford on numerous occasions.  Most recently the ensemble performed at the O’Carolan Harp Festival in Nobber and at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann where they supported Garadice. 

In 2018 they performed on TG4’s Fleadh TV, live from Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, and also on RTÉ televisions Ray D’arcy show.  Their music also featured on the National Lottery awards show, on TV3 on behalf of nominee Cairde na Cruite.  The ensemble is directed by Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla, who teaches harp with Music Generation Louth and CCÉ Craobh Dhún Dealgan.  Membership of the ensemble is open to young harpers living or learning in Co.Louth and new members are always welcome.

Dundalk harper Fionnuala Donlon began playing harp at the age of nine and is a former member of the MGL harp ensemble. She is a multi-All-Ireland medallist; in solo, accompaniment, trio and duet competitions. She most recently won the Senior Harp title at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, 2019 in Drogheda.

2019 Highlights around the country include:

  • A day-long programme of harp themed events at the Lexicon Library and Cultural Centre in Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin culminating in a concert by Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman, Cormac de Barra & Anne Marie O'Farrell and Eibhlís Ní Riordáin on early harp
  • An afternoon of poetry and music at Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park with Keith Payne, Theo Dorgan, together Cormac Juan Breatnach, Jaime Muñoz, Carlos Beceiro and harper Cormac de Barra
  • An early Irish harp Discovery Day at the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre, Co. Dublin with Simon Chadwick, Siobhán Armstrong, Róisín Elsafty and Sylvia Crawford
  • Music Generation Louth Harp Ensemble will perform along with some Special Guests including 2019 Senior Harp Champion Fionnuala Donlon, at St. Nicholas' Church of Ireland, Dundalk
  • A workshop with renowned Scottish Harpist Catríona McKay in Ionad Cultúrtha, Ballyvourney
    Harp recital by Carolyn Saunderson and opportunity to view Lady Londonderry’s harp at Mount Stewart, Co. Down.
  • A recital by Cruitirí na Ríochta & aíonna speisialta at Muckross House, Killarney
  • A 'Hands on Harp' session with the incomparable Laoise Kelly at Foxford Woollen Mills, Mayo
  • Harpers Mary Louise and Teresa O'Donnell present a talk and harp recital entitled, ‘A Celebration of the Harp / Céiliúradh na Cruite’ at the National Library of Ireland, Dublin
  • A Rising Stars concert hosted by Cairde na Cruite at the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham
  • An open rehearsal and concert with Janet Harbison's Irish Harp Orchestra at Dún Uladh, Omagh, Co Tyrone               
  • Kathy di Angelo and harper friends will chime in from the US to celebrate Lá na Cruite stateside
    A series of workshops and concerts with Fearghal McCartan and Tamsin Dearnley in Chambery, France.

A full list of events can be found at

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