The Historical Society of Ireland announces Scoil na gCláirseach – Festival of Early Irish Harp 7-13th of July 2023. Tickets Now On Sale.

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Discover the world of the exquisite and ancient Irish harp in a full schedule of 50 talks, workshops, social occasions, and concerts of harping, song, piping, viola da gamba, lute, and more. Onsite in Kilkenny from 7th -13th of July.

The festival will feature hands-on playing sessions and workshops, live Q&A sessions with Irish music masters, presentations on history, repertory, and instruments, as well as concerts featuring some of the world’s finest historical and traditional musicians, recreating the glorious sounds of the early Irish harp.

Using everything from 18th-century manuscripts to cutting-edge 21st-century science, we aim to explore as much of the world of the old harpers as is now possible. Hear, play, and sing the music familiar to Irish and Gaelic chieftains, and in the Great Irish Houses.

About the HHSI

The Historical Harp Society of Ireland brings to life a lost sound world. Founded in 2002, it leads a rediscovery of Ireland’s illustrious medieval musical instrument, depicted in the national emblem: the early Irish harp. Silent for some 200 years, the ravishing sound – and the rarely heard music – of the oldest Irish harp sounds fresh to modern ears but also evokes the farthest reaches of ancient Irish history and culture.

See for more details. 

FESTIVAL CONCERTS: See below for the two main Concerts taking place live in Kilkenny during the festival.  

Event Overview: 

Gala Concert: Masters of Irish Music

  • Saturday July 8th
  • 8:00 – 10:00 pm Irish time
  • Concert venue location: Parade Tower, Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny

Artists performing: Eibhlís Ní Ríordáin, early Irish harp and voice; Jimmy O’Brien-Moran, uilleann pipes; James Ruff, early Irish harp; Máire Ní Chéileachair, sean-nós song; Siobhán Armstrong, early Irish harp

Event Overview:

The King’s Harper: The Irish Harp at the 17th-century English Court

This concert—in the setting of the 1000-year-old tower of Kilkenny Castle—is a rare gathering of some of the world’s leading performers on early Irish harp and pipes, together with a prize-winning sean-nós [‘old style’] singer, in a programme of evocative and lively instrumental music, solo singing, and harp songs, some of which have only recently been unearthed, and reconstructed, after several hundred years of being lost to the living tradition.

  • Tuesday July 11th
  • 8:00–9:30 PM Irish time
  • Concert venue location:  The Parade Tower, Kilkenny Castle


The Irish Consort: Róisín O’Grady, soprano; Ryosuke Sakamoto, Renaissance lute; Sarah Groser, Reiko Ichise, Malachy Robinson, viols and Siobhán Armstrong, early Irish harp and direction.

Event Overview:

In 1605, King James I of England employed the first ‘royal’ Irish harper to work at the court in London: Cormac MacDermott. This gave rise to an extraordinary ensemble in which the melting sound of his early Irish harp’s brass-wire strings was woven together with the lute, Renaissance viols, and the human voice to produce a piece of exquisite music for the king’s pleasure.

Concerts take place live in Kilkenny. A video of the concert will be available to ticket holders after the festival, until 15 August, 2023. N.B. Concerts will not be live-streamed.

The HHSI is immensely grateful to its funding bodies and supporters, without whose generous support our work to rediscover the early Irish harp would not be possible. Scoil na gCláirseach–Festival of Early Irish Harp is kindly funded by An Chomhairle Ealaíon [The Arts Council], Kilkenny County Council, Creative Ireland, Harp Ireland and Ecclesiastical Insurance.

The student instrument collection of rental harps has been funded by The Music Capital Scheme, supported by The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, managed by Music Network.

See link to purchase tickets:

Concerts and link to tickets:

Festival website:


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