March 15th 2022

Acadamh na gCláirseach inaugural programme

Thirty-six students joined us from Ireland and around the world for the HHSI’s new ONLINE year-round group tuition programme.

Siobhán Armstrong presenting her class on the music of Carolan

Thirty-six students joined us from Ireland and around the world, across 16 time zones, for the inaugural courses of Acadamh na gCláirseach–Academy of Early Irish Harp, the HHSI’s new ONLINE year-round group tuition programme. Two six-week courses met weekly, from 5 February – 12 March, for the 2022 winter programme.

Dr Siobhán Armstrong presented Uncovering the real Carolan: a fresh look at the music of Ireland’s most famous harper. Drawing from 18th-century printed Carolan editions and the surviving direct transcriptions from Irish harpers, Siobhán showed her 24 students how to recognise characteristic features of Carolan’s style that are generally not known or reproduced in modern performance. Focusing on five Carolan tunes, the students learned how to arrange and play in a plausible 18th-century, Irish-harp style, incorporating all the latest evidence and discoveries in Carolan studies, including the discoveries made during Siobhán’s recent PhD research.

Dr Karen Loomis presented Rediscovering the early Irish harp: history and craftsmanship, which took an in-depth look at the early Irish harp as an historical musical instrument. Twelve students, including several harp makers, attended the course, which explored the surviving historical instruments and how to understand and learn from their craftsmanship. The final session was an enlightening presentation by Dr Alice Margerum, on reconstructing instruments from historical evidence.

The programme also provided opportunities to socialise during online ‘tea breaks’ on class days, and in a dedicated Acadamh na gCláirseach Facebook group. One of the highlights of the programme was meeting harp players and makers from across Ireland and around the world, and sharing common interests.

The HHSI would like to thank the course presenters, Dr Siobhán Armstrong, Dr Karen Loomis, and Dr Alice Margerum; Richard Begley of Richard Begley Events, who provided the online technical support and coordination; Jason Cooke and Mark Fallon of Karve, who designed the website; and all of the enthusiastic students who enrolled in the courses.

We would especially like to thank the Arts Council of Ireland for funding this programme.

New courses will be offered in spring and autumn, 2022. For further information, visit