Last week I was working with Karen Loomis, for the Historical Harp Society of Ireland, in the National Museum of Ireland, studying the Hollybrook harp (NMI DF:1986.2). The harp was purchased by the Museum at Sotheby’s in 1986. The auction catalogues and museum archives do not have any more information about the provenance before it was sent to auction.
The Hollybrook harp was described and illustrated by Robert Bruce Armstrong in 1904. He says it belonged to Robin Adair at Hollybrook. I am trying to unpick the rather confused information about these people and places. I am sure there is a lot more fine detail to uncover about the life of Robin Adair and the places he lived and visited, and his friends and associates, but this will do for a start.
Continue reading Robin Adair
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.
Continue reading harpers listening to bells
On Friday I was at Áras an Uachtaráin with Siobhán Armstrong and Eibhlís Ní Ríordáin, for Culture Night. We gave a 20 minute presentation to the President’s guests; I spoke for a few minutes and then Siobhán and Eibhlís played and sang.
Continue reading Early Irish harp at Áras an Uachtaráin
I was passing through the village of St Tugen, and so I stopped and looked into his church. It is a beautiful building, full of painted wooden sculpture. There was an information sheet that gave his life story, and there was a glass case with his relics.
Continue reading Saint Tugen
Out today in the birch and beech woods of Glen Lyon.
Continue reading Gleann Lìomhann
Steach gu Ciosamul an aighir,
Far a faighte cuirm ri gabhail
Ol fìon o oidhche gus an latha,
Pìobaireachd na feadan lagach,
‘s clàrsach bhinn ga gleusadh mar ris…
I was at Castlebay this past weekend, to play the harp at the Galley Castles Conference organised by the Islands Book Trust. I played three times for three different events during the conference, all of them fairly informal. Though I didn’t get a chance to formally present a paper on my research into the medieval Hebridean harp music and instrument tradition, I was pleased to be able to discuss my research and work with a number of interested academics working in this area on the history and archaeology of the castles and society of the medieval Western Isles and the Lordship of the Isles.
Continue reading Playing the harp in Kisimul Castle
On Wednesday I attended an interesting panel discussion, part of a series “In Numbers”, “on the ways in which mathematics interacts with the humanities”.
Continue reading Music and Mathematics
Yesterday I passed through Granard, and stopped for a very touristy photo-opportunity at the Market House, where the Granard Balls were held in the 1780s, which gathered together the last of the old Irish harpers.
Continue reading St Patrick’s Day in Ireland
Today we cycled over to Cupar for various bits & bobs. On the way home this afternoon at about sunset time, the mist was rising on the fields -the air was very still and humid, and the grass and leaves were all encased in droplets of water.
Continue reading Dairsie Castle, by Kemback