Mythic Symbolism

notes and references

1. Ann and Charlie Heymann ‘Cláirseach: the lore of the Irish harp’ Éire-Ireland XXVI no.3, fall 1991
Ann and Charlie Heymann, entries under ‘Harp’, in Fintan Vallely (ed), The Companion to Irish Traditional Music, Cork University Press, 1999
Ann Heymann, ‘Brigid, Imbolc, and the Gaelic Harp’, Eolas, Imbolc 2008: PDF download
These three articles by Ann and Charlie all cover similar ground but all also include some new material. Between them they offer a concise but full exposition of Ann and Charlie's theories regarding the sacred and mystical symbolism of the Gaelic harp's construction, tuning and playing.

2. Excerpt from The Battle of Magh Tuireadh, from BL ms Harleian 5280, taken from Eugene O'Curry, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish volume 3, Williams and Norgate, 1873, p. 213-4. The manuscript appears to be 16th century, but the text is believed to have been compiled in the 12th century from sources going back to the 9th century.

3. William Sayers, ‘The Bound & The Binding: The Lyre in Early Ireland’, in George MacLellan (ed), Proceedings of the First North American Congress of Celtic Studies, Ottawa, 1988, discusses early Irish stringed instruments in myth and symbolism (though his organology is much weaker than his mythology). Joan N. Radnor, ‘"Men Will Die": Poets, Harpers and Women in Early Irish Literature’ in A. T. E. Matonis & Daniel F. Melia (eds), Celtic Language, Celtic Culture, Ford & Bailie, California, 1990, concentrates on the place of women in early Irish harp mythology, with birth legends etc.

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© Simon Chadwick 2008 - part of the history of the Gaelic harp, at earlygaelicharp.info