Historical Harp Society of Ireland

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HHSI Chair plays for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The HHSI is proud that its founder and chair, Siobhán Armstrong, represented the Society and played her replica of the Trinity College harp at the event in the Long Room of the Old Library of Trinity College yesterday at which Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip inspected the Book of Kells and then the Trinity College harp: Ireland's illustrious medieval harp and Ireland's national emblem.

Queen Elizabeth with HHSI chair Siobhan Armstrong and Trinity Provost Dr. John Hegarty, image copyright MerrionStreet.ie used under license
The Queen, accompanied by Trinity College Provost, Dr. John Hegarty, listens to Siobhán Armstrong’s explanation of the early Irish harp
Image copyright MerrionStreet.ie used under license

One of a small number of people who play the early Irish harp, the HHSI's chair was delighted to demonstrate the instrument to Her Majesty and explain the differences between the old Irish harp–the national emblem of Ireland–with its almost 1000 history and the more familiar neo-Irish harp, which was invented in the 19th century just as the other harp finally died out.

"It was a great honour to represent my own university, the Historical Harp Society of Ireland and Ireland's illustrious medieval harp on such a historic occasion" said Ms. Armstrong, who graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1986 and who performs and records internationally on a variety of historical harps with some of the most prestigious period instrument ensembles and orchestras in the world.

The early Irish harp is the Gaelic world’s illustrious medieval harp strung in brass and sometimes even silver and gold. Played in Ireland & Scotland from at least 1000 and made famous by harpers such as Carolan, it died out in the early 19th century.

The Historical Harp Society of Ireland was founded in 2002 by Siobhán Armstrong. Its purpose is to support a revival of the playing and building of Ireland's largely forgotten medieval musical instrument, which is depicted in the national emblem: the early Irish harp.

External links:
Siobhán Armstrong sound clips and more information
The Guardian (with photo)
RTE news report (video)
Full video coverage of Royal visit to Trinity College - the Long Room section starts at 52:00 minutes; the Queen looks at the harp and talks to Siobhán Armstrong at 1:05.