The Cloyne harp

I don‘t know any information on the history of the harp between its original construction in 1621, and its description and illustration by Edward Bunting in 1809.

In 1809, the harp was in pieces, with only the neck and pillar surviving. It was then owned by the Dalway family, hence its alternative name, the “Dalway harp”.

Peter Wilson sent me an 1892 newspaper story about this harp:

An Historic Harp. Carroll Johnson, the Irish comedian, has been negotiating for the last two months with a view to securing an historic Irish harp to use while singing In his scenic production, “The Irish Gossoon.” This harp has long been in the family of Noah Dalway, Esq., of Bellshill, Ireland, with whom Mr. Johnson is negotiating. Every part of it is covered with inscriptions in Latin and Irish. It was made A. D. 1621. It contains twenty-four strings more, than the noted harp called Brian Boruimhe’s, now in Trinity College, Dublin, and, in point of workmanship, is, beyond comparison, superior to it, both for the elegance of its ornaments and for the general execution of those parts on which the correctness of the musical instrument depends. Carroll Johnson has just received a letter from the owner of this valuable relic, which makes things took as if the transferring of the harp to the popular Irish comedian was a near possibility.

The Times, Philadelphia, March 5 1892, p.7

By 1904 when R.B. Armstrong published his book, the harp was in the National Museum in Dublin. I wonder if they stepped in to save the harp from becoming an American theatrical stage-prop?


Simon Chadwick