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Harper Elaine Hogan from Clare.

Clare harpers celebrate ‘Lá na Cruite’

TO MARK Lá na Cruite, Harp Day on Saturday, County Clare harper Aisling Lyons will be performing with Elaine Hogan, Cathy Potter, Alisha McMahon and Eithne Walsh in Ennis, at St Columba’s Church and at glór.

Harps will chime worldwide to mark Ireland’s 1000-year old harping tradition, and harpers and people interested in the harp are invited to join in celebrating Ireland’s 1,000-year-old tradition on National Harp Day, Saturday (October 17).
2020 is the fourth year that Cruit Éireann, Harp Ireland has co-ordinated this event at home and farther afield in honour of our national instrument.  It will feature harps sounding loudly from dawn to dusk in iconic locations throughout Ireland, north and south and from as far away as Sydney, across the US, New Zealand and Japan. Closer to home, harpers in France, Italy, Switzerland and the UK join us to celebrate our vibrant harping tradition.
This year due to Covid 19 restrictions, Cruit Éireann will feature the best of Irish harping online and their Harpers’ Call; where they invite harpers all over the world to contribute to Lá na Cruite by sending us a short recording,

The organisation will also be running pre-recorded concerts, sessions, talks and insights from our harp makers. Each of these events will be happening virtually at  harpireland.ie.
Speaking at the launch of Lá na Cruite, Harp Day, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. Minister Catherine Martin welcomed the initiative saying, “I congratulate Harp Ireland and all the harpers throughout the island of Ireland and around the world for participating in these events. I know the circumstances have been challenging. Your commitment is testament to the love for this tradition and I thank you for sharing it with us. While there can never be a substitute for the experience of live performance, the presentation of work online creates an opportunity for the events to be accessed on a global scale and indeed revisited and enjoyed again”.
“Lá na Cruite, Harp Day 2020 is particularly momentous for us as we mark Irish Harping’s inscription on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List of Humanities. We have had a wonderful response from our call to harpers to participate” said Aibhlín McCrann, Chair of Cruit Éireann, Harp Ireland. “We also shine a spotlight on our renowned harper-composer Turlough Carolan, whose 350th anniversary happens this year, and harpers all over the world will celebrate his legacy.”
This year, more than 80 harp events will take place throughout the country and internationally
Highlights include:
A special harp concert in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens in collaboration with the Irish Consulate and the Department of Foreign Affairs. This event will celebrate the Irish harping and UNESCO recognition through harp performances, talks and workshops.
Showcasing the western harping tradition, an event closely related to the Carolan theme will be a performance from renowned harpers, Gráinne Hambly and Laoise Kelly at The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life at Turlough Park House, County Mayo. Not too far away from Turlough House at the Rosserk Friary, online audiences will get the rare chance to see nine male harpers perform a Carolan tune, sheltered from the River Moy by one of Mayo’s most cherished monuments.
Lissadell House, County Sligo, the home of the Gore-Booth sisters and immortalised in the poetry of W.B Yeats will host a concert from four harpers; Michael Rooney, Niamh McGloin Eilis Needham and Elsa Kelly. Resonating with Irish heritage and history, no more breath-taking surroundings for a concert than in Lissadell with its beautiful parklands, its Fairy Fort and its setting of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Harp performances and workshops from incredibly talented harpers such as Cormac De Barra, Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Anne-Marie O’Farrell, Michael Rooney, Siobhán Armstrong, Janet Harbison and Kathleen Loughnane and many more will be heard throughout the day.
Our younger harpers will come out in force in their harp ensembles all over the country, north and south.
Renowned harpers will give insights on harping matters closest to their hearts and Irish harp makers will give an insight into how their harps are made and also invite a harper along to demonstrate.
There will be a particular spotlight on the Northern Ireland harp tradition this year, extending involvement through harper colleagues based there with events will be held in Belfast, Derry, Armagh, Portadown, and Donegal.
Galway harpers will be out in force in Athenry.
Not far away in County Limerick, harpers, Fiana Ní Chonaill, Michelle Mulcahy and Niamh O’Brien perform at the University of Limerick in collaboration with the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
Dingle, on the westerly tip of the Wild Atlantic Way, will host a concert with Deirdre Granville and her group of harpers. They will be joined by the north Kerry harpers while Oisín Morrison and Emer McDonagh take the stage in the Crawford Gallery Cork with Damhnait Sweeney’s Glissando harp ensemble performing in Cork County Library.
Renowned harper Maeve Gilchrist is sending a special arrangement of a Carolan piece for the occasion. Harpers in Chicago will join forces on-line while harpers in New York are lining up to participate too.
The Irish Traditional Music Archive has produced a special tribute to Irish harping of performances of harpers down through the years
The grand finale will be an on-line concert in the Print Works in Dublin Castle recorded in November 2019, where more than 40 young harpers performed a newly commissioned work by Anne-Marie O’Farrell, Cúige na gCruitiri. They will be joined by Laoise Kelly, Siobhán Armstrong, Sibéal Ní Chasaidigh, Cormac and Éamonn De Barra and Richard Allen.
A full list of events can be found at harpireland.ie.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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