The Otway harp

This harp was owned and played by Patrick Quin (c.1745 - post 1809).

The sound of the harp is described unfavourably by James MacDonell:

Rose Mooney’s ... was light, sonorous, and much superior to Quin’s harp.

Letter from James MacDonnell to Edward Bunting, c. 1839

James MacDonnell’s description above is usually taken as a reflection of the short string lengths when stringing a low-headed harp in all-brass. Perhaps the Otway was originally intended for precious metal stringing, e.g. silver. Or, perhaps the Otway was simply a bit of a clunker. Perhaps it was made in 1707 to look older, and the maker compromised on the sound to get the desired ‘antique’ low-headed shape.

Edward Bunting collected tunes from Patrick Quin’s playing on the Otway harp. I have compiled a list of these tunes: please see my Patrick Quin tunes page.


Simon Chadwick