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

Patrick Quin

It’s hard to reccomend further reading on Patrick Quin. Although he was an important harper and tradition-bearer, little has been published about him.

The most information is presented in Edward Bunting, The Ancient Music of Ireland, Hodges & Smith, Dublin, 1840. Click here for info about Bunting including a link to download a facsimile of the 1840 book.

See also Bigger, F. J. ‘Patrick Quin, the Armagh harper’, Ulster Journal of Archaeology Series 2 Volume 11, 1905 p.152-154. Read online.

The article about his portrait has some useful quotes from other sources as well: Brian Audley, ‘A newly discovered portrait of Patrick Quin, the harper, c. 1745 - 1812’ in Treoir (Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann), Vol 26 No. 4, 1994

Frank Callery’s forthcoming book, A History of Blindness in Irish Society includes a chapter on the Dublin harp society, with some very useful information on Patrick Quin’s role in it. You can read a preview of this chapter online.


Quin was perhaps the only harper who gave Bunting all three of the surviving “first tunes” traditionally taught to beginners. My tutor book Progressive Lessons presents Quin’s settings along with a brief biographical note.

A plain ‘student’ copy of Quin’s harp is available to purchase or rent from the Historical Harp Society of Ireland: HHSI Student Otway.

I originally put together the list of tunes attributed to Quin for my talk connecting old harps, harpers and repertory at Scoil na gCláirseach, August 2013. Hopefully in time people will start performing and recording this repertory from Quin’s settings in the Bunting mss, using replicas of the Castle Otway harp, played in historical style with the tips of the fingers, left orientation, &c.

In the meantime, I recorded Quin’s settings of “Lochaber” and “Wild Geese” as part of track 6 of my 2012 CD Old Gaelic Laments. I also have made some videos of Quin’s tunes, played on a HHSI Student Otway harp: