The Downhill harp

Downhill harp

Denis O'Hampsey

Downhill harp
3D anaglyph image
red/cyan goggles required

Made in 1702 by Cormac O'Kelly

Owned by Guinness and displayed at their Storehouse museum in Dublin.

"High Headed" design;
30 strings, longest 97cm

This instrument was owned and played by Denis O’Hampsey (1695-1807). He was the source for much of the tradition transcribed by Edward Bunting in the 1790s, and so this harp has an iconic importance in the preservation of the early Gaelic harp traditions and their transmission on to us today.

In 2009, a TV documentary was made, following the building of a replica, which was played by Nollaig Brolly, a lever-harp player from Northern Ireland in a concert in Belfast's Exchange Rooms (the venue for the 1792 harpers' meeting). The film includes footage of the harp being inspected at Guinness's as well as of Bunting's manuscripts at Queens University.

Simon Chadwick