Historical Harp Society of Ireland

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Queen Mary


side view of Student Downhill
click to enlarge

For the third in our series of accurate, high quality, student early Irish harps, which are being made for the Society by David Kortier, of Minnesota, we wanted a later High Headed design to contrast with the medieval Student Trinity and Student Queen Mary designs.

The instrument owned and played by Denis O'Hampsey (1695 - 1807), known as the Downhill harp, built in 1702 by Cormac O'Kelly, was the obvious choice as so much of O'Hampsey's repertory and technique was written down by Edward Bunting and forms the basis of the current revival.

HHSI Student Downhill: features and specification

  • 30 brass strings, C to d''', as detailed on p.23 of Edward Bunting's "The Ancient Music of Ireland" (1840)
  • Two adjacent strings tuned to the note g below middle c' (a twelfth above the lowest note C), known as "na comhluighe"; also a missing pitch at either bottom E or F, known as "tead leagtha"or "tead leagaidh" accordingly.
  • The positioning of the 30 pegs and 32 shoes copied from David Kortier's measurements from the 18th century original in the Guinness Storehouse museum, Dublin, ensuring accurate historical string spacing and angles.
  • Overall longest dimension 51" (130cm)
  • Unitary neck-pillar construction laminated by David Kortier from soft maple wood
  • Pieced soundbox respecting wood grain orientation, from soft maple wood
  • mortice and tenon joint at top of soundbox, bolt at base
  • Triangular metal string shoes nailed on
  • Tapered through tuning pins to fit standard pedal harp size tuning key
  • Back access holes for easy stringing
  • For info on the original Downhill harp, please click here.

Listen to Carolan’s Draught and Loftus Jones by Turlough Carolan, about 1730, performed by Ann Heymann on a HHSI Student Downhill harp. MP3 download from MFA Boston

Click to enlarge

HHSI Student Downhill harps are regularly used in professional performances. View photos showing concerts performed using HHSI Downhill harps. Not currently available.

Click here for more information about ordering this harp

The HHSI has some Student Downhill harps available for rental; please enquire for waiting times and rates.

For any enquiries to do with your order, please email shop@irishharp.org.

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