Patrick Quin (c. 1745 - early 19th century)

Patrick Quin

Our information about Patrick Quin comes mostly from Edward Bunting’s 1840 book; there is a paragraph on page 82.

Patrick Quin was from Portadown, co. Armagh in Ireland. He is said to have been born about 1745. He was blind. He was taught to play the harp by Patrick Linden of the Fews, who was “a distinguished performer and poet”. I understand that Linden’s father, also called Patrick Linden (c.1666-1733) was a very famous Gaelic poet. So Patrick Quin had a very good background to his harp playing!

Quin first comes to our attention when he attended the Belfast harper’s meeting in 1792. At the age of 47 he was the second-youngest harper present. Edward Bunting obviously liked Quin’s playing, because he later travelled to co. Armagh and collected quite a number of tunes from him. Patrick Quin is said to have been a good player on the fiddle, making his living from performing on the violin at weddings and funerals.

After the Belfast meeting, there was an upsurge in interest from the wealthier middle classes spurred on by Bunting’s publication of the Ancient Irish Music in 1796. A charitable society was formed in Belfast in 1807 to teach young blind boys to play the old Gaelic harp, with Arthur O’Neill as tutor. Not to be outdone, John Bernard Trotter tells how he found Patrick Quin in 1809 and took him to Dublin. Quin became the tutor of a similar charitable harp school in Dublin, but he also performed at soirees for the fashionable music-lovers in the city. Bunting says that in 1809, Quin performed in the Rotunda in Dublin, at a concert in commemoration of Carolan.

The harp society that Quin tutored for closed in 1812, and it has been suggested that this was due to his death, but these societies were always strapped for cash and it may be more likely that it closed due to lack of money. We really don’t know when Quin died.


Brian Audley, ‘A newly discovered portrait of Patrick Quin, the harper, c. 1745 - 1812’ in Treoir (Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann), Vol 26 No. 4, 1994

Edward Bunting, The Ancient Music of Ireland, Hodges & Smith, Dublin, 1840, p. 82