I was reviewing my interview with Mícheál Ó Catháin for forthcoming inclusion on his State of the Art interview series, and a comment on my upbringing in the English change-ringing tradition started me thinking about the potential soundscape of change-ringing in the ears of the old Irish harp tradition bearers.
After 12½ years in St Andrews I have moved to Armagh – from the ancient ecclesiastical centre of Scotland, to the ancient ecclesiastical centre of Ireland.
I found a shellac 78 disc of Irish harp played by Treasa Ní Chormaic. I don’t know the date of this disc.
Update Jan 2018: Bill Dean-Myatt says it was recorded circa September 1930
I have transferred both sides onto mp3 for you, using a modern turntable.
As I played through some of his settings of Carolan and other baroque Irish harp music, using a copy of an 18th century Irish harp, I started thinking about the whole issue of playing the harp with long fingernails.
On Thursday I was at the National Museum of Scotland store in Granton, a suburb north of Edinburgh. I went there with Karen Loomis, to look at the plaster-cast of the Trinity College harp which is kept in the store. We had a very productive hour, inspecting, measuring and photographing the cast, and discussing aspects of the cast and how it related to the real thing in the Long Room at Trinity College, and to later illustrations and depictions of the harp.
On Saturday I was driving south towards Dublin when we spotted the road sign turning to Monasterboice. I zoomed off the motorway and we stopped to look at the amazing high crosses there. I was especially pleased to get a good stereo pair of the carvings on the Cross of Muiredeach.
Bha mi anns Uachtar Ard an dè airson an éiclips. Bha e latha gu math. I enjoyed seeing the eclipse and we had fantastic viewing weather all through the maximum, with clouds suddenly covering the sky about 3/4 of the way through.