Mr O’Connor was a traditional Irish harper in the mid 19th century. He was originally from Limerick; he was blind, and was enrolled into the Irish Harp Society school in Belfast some time in the late 1820s or early 1830s. He had a very good performing career, touring and playing concerts usually with other traditional harpers, and also playing at private functions at the big houses of the nobility. Most of his work was in the South-East of Ireland.
This post is to draw together references and information about him, to try to piece together his life story.
The organiser, Lily Neill, had asked me to play some old Irish harp tunes to tie in with the music manuscripts and the early 19th century documents relating to the Irish Harp Society.
I took the new reconstruction copy of the NMI Carolan harp, which was delivered to me in Kilkenny by harpmaker Pedro Ferreira less than four weeks ago. So, this was the new harp’s first public engagement!
I played a couple of tunes I had found in the Collection, and some tunes associated with Irish Harp Society students Matthew Wall and Patrick Byrne.
Here is the full line-up for the day:
3:30pm-4:00pm Dr. Mary Louise O’Donnell – “The Bengal Subscription and the Irish-Indian Connection” Frank Bunting – “Edward Bunting’s Kilmore Parish Connections”
5:15pm-6:15pm Philip McDonagh – “Do you remember Sinclair Stevenson? Reflections on the Irish Missionary Tradition in India” Lily Neill – “The Emergence of the Lever Harp”
6:30pm-7:00pm Simon Chadwick – “The Old Irish Harp” Nicholas Carolan – “Some Irish Traditional Music Finds in the Beath Collection”
My header image shows a fragment of a manuscript which I played in my concert, from the Collection: Box 4, appendix 1, no.8
The Museum of the University of St Andrews has an exhibition currently called “Victorian Visions”, looking at 19th century items in their collections, and with a focus on the rediscovery and restoration of the medieval heritage of St Andrews.
When they asked me if I could come in and do a concert of medieval harp music to tie in with the exhibition, I started thinking of musical parallels to this rediscovery. Continue reading Victorian Visions
“Nathaniel Gow’s Dance Band Concert” last night at the Edinburgh Assembly rooms was far, far more exciting, beautiful and moving than I had expected. The venue was just stunning, the band was amazing, the dancers were elegant and alluring, the programming was just perfect and the audience was almost full and really engaged with the entire project.
On Friday 20th January, I will be in the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, playing as part of a bicentenary concert. Nathaniel Gow introduced Quadrille dances to Edinburgh in 1817, at his annual ball at the Assembly Rooms, and this year Talitha MacKenzie has organised a series of events commemorating this. The main event will be a Regency ball on Saturday 11th March, but there will also be dance workshops and the concert on 20th Jan.