Natalie Surina of Ériu Harps, in Connemara, has now completed her HHSI commission to build a hand-made, high-quality copy of the late medieval Queen Mary harp. This harp was chosen on foot of Dr Karen Loomis’s ground-breaking 2015 PhD thesis, which shared new insights into the measurements and construction methods of the original instrument. This data was used by Surina to build a really beautiful instrument for our Members to use – we offer her our thanks for her meticulous work.
The HHSI has a long track record of providing instruments to amateur players, beginners and developing students. The instruments currently used by the HHSI for coaching are of a basic ‘student’ construction, following the historical originals but with construction and workmanship kept simple. While our HHSI Student or HHSI Connemara harps are perfectly adequate for beginners and less-advanced players, a more advanced harpist should ideally have access to higher quality instruments to rent. At present, there are very few such instruments in existence, and none available for rent before this harp.
This new Ériú Queen Mary will therefore give HHSI members a chance to play a harp that approximates the sound quality and touch of the medieval originals more closely than ever before and which will allow them a fuller, more nuanced experience of medieval Irish harp traditions.
This project also feeds into the HHSI’s mission to help raise the standard for the building of early Irish harps, and to support harp builders in Ireland to do excellent work.
Enormous thanks to Music Network and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, who provided the funding that made this project possible.
Visit The National Museum of Scotland’s webpage about the original Queen Mary harp.
Watch Dr Loomis giving a virtual lecture at Scoil na gCláirseach–Festival of Early Irish Harp 2018 about her work to radio-carbon date the Queen Mary harp:
Photo: Brenda Malloy