Who is behind the scenes?


Siobhán Armstrong

Founding Director

One of Europe’s best-known harpists playing pre-1800 repertory on reconstructions of medieval to baroque instruments, Siobhán performs and records early church-, chamber-music and opera with some of the most respected early-music directors, ensembles, orchestras and opera companies in Europe, and collaborates with significant traditional musicians in Ireland. In Irish music, she places herself where ‘historical’ meets ‘traditional’: for more than 25 years, she has been exploring the neglected repertory, playing techniques and idiom of the early Irish harp. This is also the subject of her PhD (Middlesex University London, 2021, forthcoming). In 2015, Siobhán located a 'lost' historic Irish harp, and in 2016 she commissioned the first ever 3D-laser scan of a musical instrument at The National Museum of Ireland. Sharing her discoveries is now at the heart of her artistic and educational work. She is the author of Singing to harp accompaniment in medieval to early modern Ireland in The Oxford Handbook of Irish Song (Oxford University Press, 2022). With her ensemble, The Irish Consort, she has begun a unique recording series to document music in Ireland 1500—1800. In 2021 Siobhán became an Occasional Lecturer at the School of Music, University College Dublin.

Karen Loomis

Assistant Director, Scoil na gCláirseach—Festival of Early Irish Harp

Karen conducts construction and craftsmanship analysis of early Irish harps, uncovering the wealth of information these instruments hold in order to help musical instrument makers, musicians, and museums. She has led groundbreaking work studying the harps of Ireland and Scotland, and recently led a project funded by the Arts Council of Ireland to undertake analysis of the 18th-century Hollybrook harp at the National Museum of Ireland, for the Historical Harp Society of Ireland. Karen’s expertise is in non-invasive techniques, utilizing extensive experience in digital multispectral scientific imaging, and an interdisciplinary background in STEM and music. She studied at the University of Edinburgh, earning a a MMus in musical instrument research and a PhD in music (organology). Karen also has a BS in physics from the University of Connecticut, and an MA in astronomy from Wesleyan University. Prior to turning her attention to musical instruments, she pursued a career in astronomy.

Maura Walsh

PR and graphic design

HHSI PR volunteer, Maura Walsh, has over twenty years’ experience in festival directorship (Galway Early Music Festival), event marketing and graphic design specific to music events. She has designed the HHSI’s hard-copy posters and information materials for many years.

Seán Donnelly

Chair, HHSI Governing Body

Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Seán Donnelly has written widely on the history of piping and harping in Ireland, and on the history of Irish music in general, including Irish dancing, subjects on which he has also lectured. Early connections between Irish and Scottish piping remain a particular interest, as does the history of the Irish harp in England and in Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Having first learnt the Highland pipes, he later took up the uilleann pipes, joining Na Píobairí Uilleann, where his growing interest in research was encouraged by Breandán Breathnach, the founder and chairman, a major collector of Irish music and an outstanding authority on the subject. As well as publications devoted to music, Seán's articles have appeared in academic, local history, and military history journals, and occasionally online.


Ashling Slater

Secretary, HHSI Governing Body

Ashling Slater has nineteen years of senior company-administration expertise. Passionate about the revival of the early Irish harp, she began her involvement with the HHSI in 2013, first as a student-player and, in 2017, was the administrator for Scoil na gCláirseach–Festival of Early Irish Harp. Ashling is also the HHSI’s volunteer social-media co-ordinator, driving engagement for HHSI events and activities. Her background includes qualifications as an acupuncturist, somatic educator, and complementary therapist. 


Governing Body


Mr. Seán Donnelly


Position currently unfilled


Ms. Ashling Slater

Other members

Mrs. Jane Carter (UK)