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National Harp Day events taking place in Dundalk this Saturday

National Harp Day events taking place in Dundalk this Saturday

Harp Ireland, Cruit Éireann, invites harpers and people interested in the harp to join in celebrating Ireland’s 1,000-year-old tradition on National Harp Day this Saturday October 19th.

2019 is the third year that Cruit Éireann, Harp Ireland has co-ordinated this national event in honour of our national instrument, and this year will feature harps sounding loudly from dawn to dusk throughout the country. From Derry to Dingle, from Belfast to Ballyvourney the wonderful sound of harp playing will resound at concerts, sessions, pop-up sessions, talks and demonstrations of harp making. Full details at

“We’re calling on everybody to come out and celebrate the harp with us on National Harp Day,” says Aibhlín McCrann, Chair of Cruit Éireann, Harp Ireland.

“It’s exciting times for the harp here in Ireland; many more people are playing the harp, the demand for Irish-made harps is growing, and you hear a lot more of the harp at festivals and concerts, in workshops or at sessions. Not only that, we have harp-players all over the world now taking an interest and getting involved with us on this very special harp day.

“National Harp Day 2019 is a particularly exciting day for us as the Irish Harp is being considered for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage designation, which if we are successful, will be announced in December. So we want to raise awareness of our unique harp tradition, share its music and make sure that we celebrate it at every opportunity”.

National Harp Day is Cruit Éireann’s initiative to promote Ireland’s national instrument, encourage more people to learn the harp, attract new audiences and recognise the harp’s unique place in Irish musical and cultural life. This year, over fifty harp events will take place throughout the country and internationally, with associated harp events taking place virtually with our harping friends in the UK, Scotland, France, the USA and New Zealand.

Music Generation Louth (MGL), supported by Create Louth, will host an afternoon concert at St. Nicholas’ Church of Ireland, Dundalk from 2-3pm. Performers include the MGL Harp Ensemble, 2019 Senior Harp Champion Fionnuala Donlon, local harpist ChuChang Cronin and Soprano Evelyne Bourton.

The MGL harp ensemble perform regularly at festival’s around the country. Most recently they featured in the line-up of artists at the O’Carolan Harp Festival in Nobber and wowed the audience at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, where they supported Garadice. In 2018, they performed live on TG4’s Fleadh TV, on RTÉ’s Ray D’arcy show and on the TV3’s National Lottery awards show, on behalf of nominee Cairde na Cruite. The ensemble is directed by Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla, and comprises accomplished young harpers living and learning in Co.Louth.

Fionnuala Donlon from Dundalk (pictured above) began playing harp at the age of nine. She is a multi-All-Ireland medallist; in solo, accompaniment, trio and duet competitions and most recently won the Senior Harp title at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, 2019. She has performed and taught across Europe and in the past year toured Ireland and Britain with Macalla na hÉireann, Comhaltas Tour group. She is also a member of the Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland.

Evelyne Bourton was immersed in the Irish musical tradition from a young age. She was also inspired by a grandfather who loved Italian opera and learned the magic of expressing stories and emotions in song. Eve’s passion for the performing arts grew when her family migrated to New Zealand and she gained acclaim in the world of theatre, musicals and opera. She has studied under the guidance of sopranos Virginia Zeani, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Mirella Freni and tenors Marcello Giordani and William Matteuzzi. Since returning to Ireland, she performs regularly with local harpist ChuChang Cronin.

ChuChang, is a classically trained pianist and flautist. Her childhood dream of playing the harp came true when she acquired a beautiful pedal harp. Her ability was instantly recognisable to her teacher Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla who recommended she further her studies with renowned pedal Harpist Denise Kelly McDonnell, with whom she studies today.

2019 Highlights around the country include:

  • A day-long programme of harp themed events at the Lexicon Library and Cultural Centre in Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin culminating in a concert by Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman, Cormac de Barra & Anne Marie O’Farrell and Eibhlís Ní Riordáin on early harp
  • An afternoon of poetry and music at Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park with Keith Payne, Theo Dorgan, together Cormac Juan Breatnach, Jaime Muñoz, Carlos Beceiro and harper Cormac de Barra
  • An early Irish harp Discovery Day at the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre, Co. Dublin with Simon Chadwick, Siobhán Armstrong, Róisín Elsafty and Sylvia Crawford
  • Music Generation Louth Harp Ensemble will perform along with some Special Guests including 2019 Senior Harp Champion Fionnuala Donlon, at St. Nicholas’ Church of Ireland, Dundalk
  • A workshop with renowned Scottish Harpist Catríona McKay in Ionad Cultúrtha, Ballyvourney
  • Harp recital by Carolyn Saunderson and opportunity to view Lady Londonderry’s harp at Mount Stewart, Co. Down
  • A recital by Cruitirí na Ríochta & aíonna speisialta at Muckross House, Killarney
  • A ‘Hands on Harp’ session with the incomparable Laoise Kelly at Foxford Woollen Mills, Mayo
  • Harpers Mary Louise and Teresa O’Donnell present a talk and harp recital entitled, ‘A Celebration of the Harp / Céiliúradh na Cruite’ at the National Library of Ireland, Dublin
  • A Rising Stars concert hosted by Cairde na Cruite at the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham
  • An open rehearsal and concert with Janet Harbison’s Irish Harp Orchestra at Dún Uladh, Omagh, Co Tyrone
  • Kathy di Angelo and harper friends will chime in from the US to celebrate Lá na Cruite stateside
  • A series of workshops and concerts with Fearghal McCartan and Tamsin Dearnley in Chambery, France.

A full list of events can be found at

Cruit Éireann, Harp Ireland is the national umbrella resource organisation for the harp, its organisations, harp players and harp makers in Ireland. It was established in 2016 by harpers in collaboration with the Arts Council, An Chomhairle Ealaíon to support the continuing development of the harp in Ireland, gain recognition for its unique status and secure its sustainability.

Lá na Cruite, National Harp Day is generously supported by the Arts Council, An Chomhairle Ealaíon and RTÉ lyric fm.