Art & Culture

230 years a-harping with renowned Irish harpers

Excalibur Press

Cost: £20
Doimnic Macghiolla Bhríde and Siobhán Armstrong
230 years a-harping with renowned Irish harpers

Harpers from all over Ireland gather to recreate the Belfast Harpers Assembly held around this time 230 years ago. Dr James McDonnell, Robert Bradshaw and Henry Joy, (uncle to Henry Joy and Mary Ann McCracken) were the driving force behind the initiative, whose purpose was to revive an interest in harp music and to safeguard the harpers’ music for future generations. Eleven harpers attended. Seven were blind. 

The eldest, Denis Hempson (1695 -1807) from Derry, was 97. He was the only one to use the ancient way of playing with the fingernails. 

Edward Bunting, 19 year old organist (1773-1843) was employed to write down the music of the harpers and to transcribe their techniques. 

This became a lifelong passion and he subsequently published three volumes of music which he called the Ancient Music of Ireland. 

Siobhán Armstrong (Early Irish Harp) singer, Doimnic Macghiolla Bhríde and Laoise Kelly revisit some of the harpers’ music collected by Edward Bunting, while 11 of our younger harpers select and perform their favourite harpers’ tunes. 

Including the following Harpers:

  • Siobhan Armstrong
  • Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhride
  • Laoise Kelly, Emily Cullen
  • Grainne Meyer
  • Adam O'Neill
  • Sharon Carroll
  • Alannah Thornburg
  • Aisling Lyons
  • Fiona Gryson
  • Rachel Duffy
  • Aisling Urwin
  • Niamh O'Brien
  • Siobhan Buckley
  • Luke Webb

Buy Tickets here:


  • Arts
  • HarpsAlive
  • harp
  • harps
  • harping
  • music
  • livemusic
  • belfast

Date and Time

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First Presbyterian Church
41 Rosemary Street
United Kingdom

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