These instruments copy the “Downhill”, now on display in the Guinness Storehouse museum in Dublin. Kortier visited the museum in 2002 and took detailed measurements and observations of the original; these measurements have been combined with his specially-developed laminating and mass-production techniques to produce an affordable yet reliable and accurate replica.
The original Downhill harp was built by Cormac O’Kelly in 1702, and was owned and played for most of his life by Dennis O’Hampsey (1695 – 1807). When Edward Bunting was collecting the last remnants of the ancient Irish harp tradition in the late 18th century, O’Hampsey was one of his main informants, and the only one who retained the old fingernail playing style. His repertory included many very unique old pieces that are now key to our understanding of the instrument and its music. The Society is delighted that Gaelic harp students – as well as teachers and professionals! – will now be able to study that music on replicas of the very instrument from which it was noted down.
HHSI Student Downhill harps are available for sale or rent. For more information, specification and prices please visit the HHSI shop at www.irishharp.org/shop
The HHSI would like to express their sincere thanks to the Arts Council, whose generous 2005 Minor Capital funding grant to us enabled us to buy two of these new HHSI Student Downhill harps.