Rose Mooney’s harp

This harp is believed to have been owned and played by Rose Mooney (1740 - c.1798).

The tuning and sound of the harp is described by James MacDonell:

Rose Mooney’s had thirteen strings below and eighteen above the ‘sisters’. ... it was light, sonorous, and much superior to Quin's harp.

Letter from James MacDonnell to Edward Bunting, c. 1839

James MacDonnell’s description above suggests that Mooney had 33 strings on the harp, probably with a tuning from GG in the bass (2 1/2 octaves below middle c) up to d''' (2 octaves and a note above middle c), with no string for the lowest F, and two strings for g below middle c. Assuming that she used the harp while it was in its current fractured and repaired state, she probably neglected the top two pins and the top 2 shoes, or perhaps the top 4 pins and 2 shoes if she used the 2 lowest (now blocked) pin holes.

Edward Bunting collected tunes from Rose Mooney, the only woman harper to attend the 1792 Belfast harper’s meeting. For my list of tunes collected from Rose Mooney, please see my Rose Mooney tunes page.


Simon Chadwick