Scoil na gCláirseach – Festival of Early Irish Harp (15th-21st August)

Scoil na gCláirseach – Festival of Early Irish Harp (15th-21st August)

Wednesday, 15 August 2018, 9.30am

Scoil na gCláirseach—Festival of Early Irish Harp
15th-21st August

Coláiste Pobail Osraí Secondary School, Ormond Rd, Kilkenny
Presented by The Historical Harp Society of Ireland 

Join participants from Ireland – and from around the world – to immerse yourself in the world’s unique festival celebrating Ireland’s exquisite, ancient harp. You may never have heard the early Irish harp before, but you surely know its image, depicted on the Euro and on official Irish documents. This rare, very special Irish harp – strung in brass wire – is a different instrument to  the modern Irish harp, which is more closely related to the orchestral pedal harp.  

JOIN local, national and international guests and year-to-year ‘family’ In the centre of medieval Kilkenny: for an intensive experience: for a single event; for a day; for a week.

PLAY the instrument in hands-on Beginners’ workshops or in our week-long intensive players sessions and workshops

DISCOVER the beauty of the original Irish harp in concerts given by some of the world’s best historical Gaelic harpers, singers and pipers. 

EXPLORE in lectures and workshops the history of the harp and the manuscripts holding the music and songs transcribed from the last harpers. 

TRAVEL around Dublin with us on our guided field trip day for a rare opportunity to see surviving instruments in museum collections. 

See full programme details below, including workshops, concerts, players’ sessions, lectures, masterclasses and field trip, or visit 

WALK-IN TASTER SESSIONWed. 15 August, 3–4pm 

Have you ever dreamt of playing a harp and didn’t know where to start? If so, then the opening Taster Session at Scoil na gCláirseach—Festival of Early Irish Harp on Wed. 15 August, 3.00 – 4.00 pm is your chance: the perfect opportunity for you to hear, see and try out a copy of an early Irish harp. No musical experience is required and harps will be available. Just book in advance to be sure of a place and to reserve your instrument.  

Spaces are also still available 16–20 August for beginners and also for more advanced players for the festival tuition sessions each morning. A limited number of rental harps are available.

Prices range from €10 for one event to €460 for an adult immersive package. 

INFORMATION & BOOKINGS        info [at] ()        083 8609677




PLAYERSSESSIONS  9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Players (beginners to advanced) receive intensive tutoring each morning in three parallel streams.  

WORKSHOPS  1:45 - 2:45 p.m.
Interactive workshops, often divided into two streams. 

Thurs 16 Aug
Passing on the tradition: learning old Irish harp repertory, style, and technique Simon Chadwick

Lyons, O’Kane, O’Hampsey & the Master of the King’s Music: the transmission of Eibhlín a Rún variation sets in the eighteenth century 
Siobhán Armstrong 

Fri 17 Aug
Emotion and passion in Ceòl Mór: dealing with rhythm and tension in phrasing Allan Macdonald 

Sat 18 Aug
Learn an Irish language song Non-Irish speakers with Eibhlís Ní Ríordáin 
Learn an Irish language song Irish speakers with Padraigín Ní Uallacháin

Sun 19 Aug
An Introduction to eighteenth-century harp manuscripts: Edward Bunting’s drafts and fair copies Siobhán Armstrong 

A’ ghlas mheur [the finger lock]: Adapting piobaireachd to cláirseach
Ann Heymann 

Mon 20 Aug
How many pitches are there? Which pitches are used? Which pitches are strong or weak?  Modes in Gaelic harp music Simon Chadwick 

MASTERCLASSES 3:45 - 4:30 (Thurs - Sun)
Fifteen-minute masterclasses with master, early-Irish harpist Ann Heymann, working with individual players, beginners to advanced. 

LECTURES 4:45 - 5:15 p.m. (Mon: 3.45 p.m.)
Pre-concert talks given by international world experts in the field together with a website launch on Mon 20 August. 

Thurs 16 Aug
Radiocarbon dating the Queen Mary harp
Dr Karen Loomis delivers long-sought answers to questions about the age of one of the most ancient of the surviving historic Irish harps. [Virtual presentation from Princeton, NJ, USA] 

Fri 17 Aug
Exploring tuning strategies
Dr Paul Dooley presents some of his work on medieval harp tuning and temperaments in Ireland and Wales.   

Sat 18 Aug
Traditions and histories of the Irish harp
Simon Chadwick, author of, gives an introduction to the subject, from earliest times to the present day.    

Sun 19 Aug
Music, Ireland and the Sixteenth Century
Siobhán Armstrong discusses musical outcomes of the interaction between the Gaels and Old English, and the Tudor courtiers sent to Ireland by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Mon 20 Aug
State of the Art
Launch and trailer of Micheál Ó Catháin’s multimedia interview series profiling five leading early Irish harpists and their music. 

CONCERTS  5:45 - 6:45 p.m (Thurs - Sun)
[Join us at 5.30 p.m. for free pre-concert nibbles and drinks!] 

Thurs 16 Aug
Ceól Mór: The Big Music Of Harp & Pipes
Allan Macdonald, voice & Scottish smallpipes; Ann Heymann, harp; Simon Chadwick, harp. 
Iconic Scottish Gaelic music star, Allan Macdonald, joins international pioneers of early Gaelic harping to present the aristocratic music of the Highlands. 

Fri 17 Aug
The Dawn Of Day: Songs Of The Harpers
Siobhán Armstrong, harp; Eibhlís Ní Ríordáin, voice and harp; Mícheál Ó Catháin, voice and harp. 

Ireland’s foremost historical harpist is joined by prize-winning singer, Eibhlís Ní Ríordáin, in evocative songs by 17th- and 18th-century Irish harpers. Also featuring singer-harper Mícheál Ó Catháin, who is almost unique in accompanying his own singing on the early Irish harp. 

Sat 18 Aug
Sounds Of Scotland
Allan Macdonald, Scottish smallpipes and voice; James Ruff, harp. 

Scottish music icon, Allan Macdonald, performs meltingly beautiful Gaelic songs and Scottish small pipes compositions and is joined by historical harpist, James Ruff, playing harp repertory he has unearthed and reconstructed from 17th- and 18th-century Scottish sources. 

Sun 19 Aug
A Hidden Ulster: Music Of Oriel
Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, voice; Sylvia Crawford, harp; Darren Mag Aoidh, fiddle. 

Renowned scholar-singer Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin sings songs of south-east Ulster and is joined in this gorgeous music from Oriel by harpist Sylvia Crawford and fiddler Darren Mag Aoidh.

Tues 21 Aug   8:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Join us for our annual trip to Dublin museums to examine, at close-hand, many of the surviving historic Irish harps inc. the Trinity College, Mullagh Mast, Sirr, Fitzgerald-Kildare and the Carolan / Rose Mooney harp. Our field-trip coach leaves Coláiste Pobail Osraí at 8.00 a.m. sharp, returning in the evening. Guests can join us in Dublin. Prior booking essential.



The HHSI Student Harp  Bank – kindly funded by Music Network –  has a limited number of early Irish harps available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis. The rental charge for the duration of the festival is €60 / €50 (under-16) plus a cash deposit of €50. Please contact the festival in advance if you would like to reserve a harp. 

Coláiste Pobail Osraí secondary school is on Ormonde Road, Kilkenny, behind Ormonde College. Enter through the College car park. 

A wide range of accommodation is available within walking distance of Coláiste Pobail Osraí. For more information please see or telephone Kilkenny Tourist Information on +353 (0)56 7751 500. We are very happy to assist with accommodation questions. N.B. Early booking is strongly recommended, since Kilkenny is a very popular tourist destination in August. 

Feel free to join us for any of the following events: 

Listen to a Players’ Session, Workshop
or Evening Lecture  €10
Concert        €15 / €10 concessions & members  (under-12, €5)
Concert + Evening Lecture  €20 / €15 concessions & members
Day rate (all events)   €40 / €30 concessions & members 

FULL PACKAGE  Play in the Players’ Tuition Sessions each morning plus all events
Week rate   €460 / €360 (under-16)      
Day rate      €95 / €75 (under-16) 

To book the Full Package, please email or phone us and use one of our suggested payment methods to send us your deposit of €150 (week rate) / €45 (day rate).

N.B. Guests’ and Full Package rates do not include harp rental fees, lunches or the Dublin field trip.

Including  coach travel        €45 / €35 (under-16)          
Join us in Dublin                  €25 / €20 (under-16) 

Scoil harp rental (week)     €60 / €50 (under-16), plus cash deposit of €50
Hot vegetarian lunch €14 per day (pre-booked only)
Private coaching             €50 per hour 

Sign up for the Full Package with a friend who is new to the festival and we will give you each a €25 discount on the week rate. HHSI Associate Members receive a €30 discount on Player’s fees paid in their year of membership. Join at 

Individual events can be paid for at the ticket desk on arrival. Full packages, field trip, harp rental etc. can be paid by direct bank transfer: 

Account name: The Historical Harp Society of Ireland
Bank details:   Allied Irish Bank, 3 High St, Kilkenny, Ireland.
IBAN:   IE39 AIBK 9331 9847 9670 49    

We also accept international Paypal, postal orders, bank drafts and personal cheques in most currencies (made payable to The Historical Harp Society of Ireland). Please add a one-off additional fee of €20 to cover our bank charges.

INFORMATION & BOOKINGS        info [at] ()        083 8609677


Photo credit: Honor Heymann



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