The Historical Society of Ireland brings people together to rediscover the old Irish harp with wire strings, which was played until the early 1800s: artists and audiences; researchers; teachers and students; and harp makers.
Early Irish Harp Discovery Days
We present nationally-accessible early Irish harp Discovery Days with LISTEN – LEARN – HAVE A GO! events in collaboration with other Irish organisations, festivals and institutions.
We create resources for our members:
The HHSI rental harp collection
We offer players affordable access to the first ever rental collection of early Irish harps. We have seventeen instruments in total: nine HHSI harp models based on medieval to eighteenth-century harps in museum and private collections. Cost: €35 p.c.m.
The HHSI offers a tutor-finding service for early Irish harp tuition for term time classes in Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Armagh and Waterford. Classes are individual and normally last for sixty minutes. Longer lessons are also possible.
We can also help you access online tuition available over Skype (and similar). Currently we have networked tutors to players in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Italy, UK and Japan.
The HHSI Library
The HHSI has 500+ items in the first ever members’ library of books, periodicals, CDs and ephemera, devoted to early Irish harp and related subjects (Irish history and culture; 17th-21st century scholarly material; parallel European source material; sound recordings and ephemera). In 2020 our online catalogue went live in an integrated library Management system. Read more HERE.
Artist Support and Mentoring
One-to-one artist support time is now a key, integral part of our remit to foster the rediscovery of the early Irish harp: mentoring artists and inspiring them through dissemination of the latest expert knowledge in the field and also helping them to network with diverse experts in this – and related – fields.
We provide information services and create public resources:
The HHSI Youtube Channel
Watch 60+ videos of performances, talks and workshops filmed at our events HERE
Scoil na gCláirseach–Festival of Early Irish Harp
The HHSI’s Scoil na gCláirseach–Festival of Early Irish Harp is Ireland’s international annual festival for the instrument with interactive presentations, workshops, talks, intensive daily tuition and walk-in Beginners’ Taster events.
Our summer festival concerts feature performances of rare and evocative historical Irish music given by Irish and international historical harpists, singers and pipers, and offer a showcase for emerging performers. Programmes range from Gaelic plainchant in Latin to eighteenth-century Irish, and Scottish Gaelic, music.
We support cutting-edge scientific research on surviving historic Irish harps by the world experts in the field.
Watch an RTE TV news report on our recent pilot project in association with The National Museum of Ireland.
Some of those we have coached and mentored over the years are now professional artists, harp tutors, harp builders and/or have achieved MAs and PhDs in the field from e.g. Ireland, Northern Ireland, The Canary Islands, Poland and the USA.
Some of our international festival participants now bring their own students to Ireland to take part in Scoil na gCláirseach—Festival of Early Irish Harp each summer so our work is now giving rise to an international second generation of performers.
Harp makers will benefit from our scientific survey projects in having access to the most up-to-date data in order to build replicas of early Irish harps.
We have a commitment to high-quality, collaborative arts practice. We have excellent links to – and have collaborated on programming with – many other music organisations, third-level institutions, churches and cultural centres – both north and south – in Ireland to provide concert events but also Illustrated Talks and Beginners’ workshop events for amateur and non-musicians to try out the early Irish harp. These organisations include: The National Museum of Ireland; The Office of Public Works; Trinity College Dublin; NUI Galway; Na Píobairi Uilleann, Dublin; Music Network; Galway Early Music Festival; The Seamus Ennis Arts Centre, Co. Dublin; The Remembering Bunting Festival, Belfast; Harp Ireland, Cairde na Cruite, churches and cultural centres.