Carolan played the harp in the old Irish tradition. His harp was an old Irish harp (also known as early
Irish harp or cláirseach), with brass wire strings.
There are two old harps, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century, that are said
to have belonged to Carolan. One is preserved by the descendents of Carolan’s patrons, the O’Connors of
Belnagare, who now live at Clonalis House, County Roscommon. The other, which may be associated with Carolan’s
descendents, is preserved at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
There are also stories about a third harp, which Carolan is said to have bequeathed to his patron Mrs MacDermott Roe
at Alderford house. This harp is said to have been destroyed in a fire in the 18th century.
Carolan is shown with a harp in the famous portrait of him; I don’t know if this is the Alderford harp which
was burned, or if it is a fourth harp.