The Clonalis harp

Not to scale

Dated to the 18th Century

Also known as the Carolan harp

On display at Clonalis house, Ireland, home of the Conor family.

approx. 35 strings

"High Headed" design;
No dimensions available

Clonalis harp
photo © Siobhán Armstrong

This harp remains in the possession of the O'Connor family, the descendents of the medieval kings. It probably originally belonged to Charles O'Connor, who played the harp.

This harp is claimed to be the harp of Turlough O'Carolan (1670 - 1738). R.B. Armstrong does not mention this instrument, but gives two different traditions - that Carolan's harp was burned after his death, or that his son carried it to London. The pieced construction of this instrument's soundbox could imply a later 18th Century date.

This harp was taken to New York in April 1886, where it was exhibited by the Gaelic Society there. The harp was re-strung, and was played upon by Miss Inez Kinsale who sung and played on it "The Coulin". For that trip, the harp was valued at $10000 (£2074) and insured for $5000 (£1037). New York Times, April 26, 1886

Photo from Fáilte Ireland photographic section.


Simon Chadwick