The Historical Harp Society of Ireland

Rediscovering the early Irish harp

Our Aim

The Historical Harp Society of Ireland brings to life a lost sound world. Founded in 2002, it leads a rediscovery of Ireland’s illustrious medieval musical instrument, depicted in the national emblem: the early Irish harp. Silent for hundreds of years, the ravishing sound – and the rarely heard music – of the old Irish harp sounds fresh to modern ears but also evokes the farthest reaches of ancient Irish history and culture.

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What do we do?

We build community locally, nationally and internationally, to rediscover the old Irish harp with wire strings, depicted in the national emblem, and played until the early 1800s:

artists & audiences

players & tutors

researchers & experts

harp makers & organologists

Artist Support and Mentoring

We inspire, support and mentor the next generation of performers, in Ireland and internationally, providing them with expert information and resources, and also with performance opportunities.

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Acadamh na gCláirseach—Academy of Early Irish Harp

Online Zoom courses (sessions on six consecutive Saturdays) with expert presenters, on a diverse range of topics. Levels: post-beginner to professional.

Visit the Academy

Scoil na gCláirseach—Festival of Early Irish Harp

Ireland’s annual international festival for the instrument with concerts, talks, interactive workshops and players’ sessions, and walk-in Beginners’ Taster events.

Festival website

Scientific Research

We support harp builders by carrying out cutting-edge scientific research on historic Irish harps. We offer a free, downloadable database of information from our pilot project on an 18th-century Irish harp.

Report: The Hollybrook Project


We can help you find an in-person or online tutor in Ireland or elsewhere.Currently we have networked tutors and players in Ireland, Italy, Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Brazil, and Japan.

Contact us for more info.

Early Irish Harp Discovery Days

We collaborate with organisations and festivals around Ireland to offer early-Irish-harp Discovery Days with a concert, talk and hands-on beginners’ workshop.

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Rental Harp Collection

We offer players working with HHSI tutors low-cost access to the first ever rental collection of early Irish harps, based on medieval to 18th-century originals in museum and private collections.

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Online Resources & Repertory

We aim to connect to as much useful and relevant information as possible, and to provide our own outline of what historical repertory one can play on an early Irish harp.

Useful links

Youtube Channel

Watch 80+ videos of concert performances, talks and workshops filmed at our events over the years, made available as a free public resource.

HHSI Youtube channel


500+ items in the first members’ library of copies of 17th- to 21st-century MS and printed materials, sound recordings and ephemera related to early Irish harp, Gaelic history and culture, and parallel European source material.

Browse our online catalogue

Antique Harp Collection

We are assembling a collection of antique and replica harps. If you are planning to donate an 18th-, 19th- or early 20th-century harp, please consider us as a possible recipient.

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Timbers for Harp Construction

We have begun a collaboration with a bio-engineering company to make appropriately sized pieces of willow available to harp builders, suitable to produce medieval- to 18th-century harps.

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Support Us

Please join us in our work to rediscover Ireland’s iconic, ancient harp. We are grateful for one-off donations of any amount, and warmly welcome new associate members.

The HHSI is the only organisation dedicated to the early Irish harp... [and] has an exemplary track record in delivering high quality events...It continues to excel as an organisation by delivering a specific and unique element of the traditional arts to the arts community and the wider public. [The Arts Council of Ireland, 2019]

Support Us
Arts Council Funding Traditional Arts Music Network Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Harp Ireland