Denis O'Hampsey - read more

Denis O'Hampsey

His memoirs

The main source for Denis O'Hampsey's life is the letter from Rev. George Sampson, to Lady Morgan, which was printed in the novel The Wild Irish Girl, 1806. (read it online)

The letter was reprinted, with comments on O'Hampsey's repertory and playing, by Edward Bunting in The Ancient Music of Ireland, 1840, p.73-7. (PDF download).

CDs with his music

Queen of Harps

Ann Heymann's CD Queen of Harps includes performances of Feachain Gleas and Scotts Lamentation from the notations in ms29, played on a replica of the Downhill harp.
£13 +

Cruit go nÓr

Ann Heymann's CD Cruit go nÓr contains the song Conchubhar Mhac Coiréibhe with sung verses as well as Lyons' variations taken from the ms29 notation of O'Hampsey's playing.
£13 +

Cláirseach na hÉireann - The Harp of Ireland

Siobhán Armstrong's CD Cláirseach na hÉireann includes Lyons's 'Lady of the Desart', from the ms29 notation of O'Hampsey's playing, performed with a sung version of the song 'An Chúileann' on which it is based.
£13 +

Clàrsach na Bànrighe

Simon Chadwick's CD Clàrsach na Bànrighe includes 'Burns March', from the ms29 notation of O'Hampsey's playing.
£13 +


As well as the engraving published in Bunting 1809, there are two etchings by Brocas in the National Library of Ireland. There may also be an oil painting in private hands but I have not seen this.

Other material

Ann Heymann has written an excellent online article about his repertory. Click here to read it.

Sampson's letter and Bunting's comments were reprinted with some extra material by F.J. Biggar in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, vol XII no. 6, 1906, p102-110

Colm O Baoill, "Some Irish harpers in Scotland", Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness includes identifications of the locations and individuals mentioned by Sampson.

Much of O'Hampsey's repertory is preserved in the Bunting manuscripts at Queens University Belfast. Though a number of the tunes were printed by Bunting these are romantic piano settings that are far from what O'Hampsey played. MS29 is the most important source, being Bunting's pocket note book. poor-quality versions are available online at Queens website.


There are two short booklets on Denis O'Hampsey published in the last decade or two. I have a few copies of Jim Hunter's in stock but I have been unable to acquire copies of Brian Audley's.