Visit A Timeline of Early Harpers in Ireland
for a commentary on this list by Keith Sanger
HARPERS in IRELAND
Date Gaelic harpers Anglo–Norman harpers
d1110 Ferdomnach the Blind, Lector of Cell dara, sui cruitirechta [1]  
d1168 Amhlaeibh Mac Innaighneorach, cruitirecht [2]  
d1177 Timpanist Ua Coinnecan [3]  
1190–1265   Symon le Harpur [4], Henricusle Harpur,a
Thomas le Harpur,a, Philippus le Harpura
d1226 Aedh, son of Donnsleibhe O’Sochlachain, airchinnech of Cunga ‘sai canntairechta & crotglesa’ [5]  
1274   Hugh le Harpour [6]
c1287–1297   Roger le Harpour [7]
1293   Walter le Harper [8]
fl 1303   Roberto Fil David Citheratore [9]
fl 1305   Ricardi Le Harpour [10]
1315 Murtagh O Coygnan [11] Symon le Harpur (died) [12]
1329 Cam O’Kayrwill (died) [13] harp and tiompan plus (20 tiompan students) John Harper [14]
Nicholas Harpour(died) [15]
1356   Richard Harper [16]
d1360 (Gilla na naem O’ Conmaid – Tiompan) [17]  
d1361 Mag Rath O’Fiiaghty –Tiompan) [18]  
d1364 (Bran hUa Brain – Tiompan) [19]  
1371   Richard Harper [20]
1374   William Harper [21]
1400   William Dodmore [22]
fl 1416 O Cuirnin ‘Tiompan and Clàrsach’ [23]  
1419   Philip Harper [24]
d 1433 Aedh Ua Corcrain ‘cruitire’ [25]  
d 1469 Ruaidri O Dalaig, Clàrsach [26]  
1468/78   Thomas Harper [27]
1472   Thomas Harper [28]
1479/80   William Marshall [65]
1487   Iacobus hanwodd harper [29]
d1490 (Diarmaid Cairbrech, ‘fer tett’) [30]  
d1490 (Fionn ua hAngluinn chief tiompan player of Ireland) [31]  
d1496 Florence Ua Corcrain ‘cruitire’ [32]  
d–c 1500–1520 Willms OHa...ha... (? William O’Houlahan) [33]  
fl 1515 (Conchoir O hanglyne tiompan) [34]  
1517   John Harper [35]
1541 Owen Keynan [36]  
1552 O’Conmee, given a tiompan worth 20 marks [37]  
fl 1553 Edward O’Floyne of Meylerston, harper [38]  
Later non Gaelic names
(Anglo–Norman unless noted otherwise) [b]
1574x1583   Cruise [39]
1584 Meolmyrry mc shane, Owohny mc meolmvry his son and ffar gan anym his brother Dermod odwedy, Rwshell oge odwedy and william Roe odwedy [40]  
1584 Cahil McShercoile [66]  
c1565–1586 Donogh Mac Crydon, [41]
Thady Credan, MacLoughlin Roe O’Brennan, Maelconry Mac Shane,William MacCrudddan,
Gillaglass O’Shallow, Dermot McGrath
Walter Brenagh (Walsh), Russell MacRussell
1586 John mcSawerley [42]  
1590   Richard Barrett [43] (see 1596)
1591   Plunkett [44]
William Bathe [45]
1592 Gillpatrick Oge [67]  
1595 Peter McMahon [46]  
1596   Richard Barrett [47]
1598 Murchadh Mac Tadhg Og [48]  
1601x1602 Carolus Oralii, (at Court of Christian IV in Denmark) [49]  
c 1601 John O’Lynch, [50] Art Mac Gillegrone MacDonnell,
Geofry McGlade, Tadhg O’Dermody(harp maker),
Dermot O’Sgingin, Donal Mac Conmee,
James O’Nolan, Melaghlin O’Duane,
Tadhg Mac Donal Mac Rory
Richard Forstall
c 1602 Gillaglass O’Shalvey, [51] Owen O’Shalvey,
John O’Malony, Owen Mac Kiernan, Tadhg O’Laffan,
Edmund O’Gibney, Shane ballagh McGeough
Cormack Mac Gillecosgellie
Rory Albanagh [a]
c 1603 Owen Mac Dermot reagh, Dermat O’Dugan [52]  
d 1618 Cormack MacDermott [53]  
1619   William Barry (Norman Welsh) [54]
1561–1653   Nicholas Dall Pierse [55]
1620   Ned Scott [a] [56]
1621 Giollaphadraig Mac Criodain and
Diarmaid Mac Criodain [68]
 
1621x?1634 Felix Mc Shane [58] Darby Scott [a], (at Court of Christian IV in Denmark) [57]
c1580–1639 Conchubhar Mac Conghalaigh [59]  
1600–1653   Pierce Ferriter [60]
1663 Richard Malone, a blind harper aged 36 years [61]  
fl 1678 Hugh McShaney [62]  
1678 William Honneghan alias Whoghan (Welsh) [63] …alias Whoghan (Welsh) [63]
d 1683   Dick Barry (Norman Welsh) [64]

[1] Annals of Ulster

‘Ferdomnach the blind, lector of Cell Dara, i.e. a master of harping, died.
‘Ferdomhnach Dall fer leiginn Cille Dara .i. sui cruitirechta.

Annals of the Four Masters

‘Feardomhnach, the most distinguished of the senior jurisconsults, and lector of Cill–dara’.
‘Feardomhnach Dall, saoi cruitirechta fer leighinn Cille Dara’.

[2] Annals of the Four Masters

‘Amhlaeibh Mac Innaighneorach, chief ollamh of Ireland in harp–playing, died’.

‘Amhlaoibh Mac Innaighneorach, ard–ollamh Ereann i c–cruitirecht, d’ecc’.

[3] Annals of Ulster

‘The Timpanist Ua Coinnecen, arch–ollam of the North of Ireland, was killed by the Cenel–Conaill with his wife and with his people’.

‘In Timpanach h–Ua Coinnecen, ard–ollam Tuaisceirt Erenn do marbadh do Chenel Conaill cona mnai & cona muinnter’.

[4] Connolly, P and Martin, G, The Dublin Guild Merchant Roll c1190–1265

[5] Annals of LC

Aedh, son of Donnsleibhe O’Sochlachain, airchinnech of Cunga, a professor of singing and of harp–making; who made besides, an instrument for himself, barrett like of which had never been made before, and who was distinguished in every art, both in poetry and engraving, and writing, and in every science that a man could exercise, died in this year’.

‘Aedh mac Duinn Sleibhe I Shochlachain, aircinneach Cunga, sai canntairechta & crotglesa, maroen re gles do denum do fein nach dernadh remhe, & ba sai in gac ceird, idir dan & gribhdacht & scribhend, & ar gach nealaduin do nidh duine, do eg an bliadain sin’.

Annals of Connacht

‘Aed son of Donn O Sochlachain, erenagh of Cong, a man eminent for chanting and for the right tuning of harps and for having made an instrument for himself which none had made before, distinguished also in every art such as poetry, engraving and writing and in every skilled occupation, died this year’.

‘Aed mac Duinn h. Sochlachan airchinnech Cunga, sai chantuirechta & certglesae & glesa crot, & mar aen re gles do denam do fein nach dernad reme, & ropa sai ar cach cerd etir dan & gribdacht & scribinn & ar cech n–eladain dognith, do ecc in hocc anno’.

[6] Curtis, E, Calendar of Ormond Deeds Vol 1, Witness to deed No 185

[7]

Fletcher, J, A, Drama and the Performing Arts in Pre–Cromwellian Ireland. quoting 1287. Christ Church Deeds where Andrew Pollard grants to Roger the harper land in Fishamble Street, Dublin. likely to be same as;–1297, Justiciary Rolls, It is found by the jusry in which Roger le Harpour plaintiff and Rob. le Feur put themselves, that Robert maliciously broke Roger’s harp (cithara) by throwing a stone, to Roger’s damage of 2s. Therefore it is adjudged that Roger recover 2s. and Robert be committed to gaol.

[8] Curtis, E, Calendar of Ormand Deeds, Vol 1, Witness to deed No 312

[9] White, N, ed, The Red Book of Ormond, From the fourteenth century original, Surveys of various manors, p77

[10] White, N, ed, The Red Book of Ormond, Surveys of various manors, p7

[11] An Chartlann Naisiunta, 2/7–1A/53/20

[12] Fletcher, Alan Drama and Performing Arts, quoting the Justiciary Rolls for the 4 February 1314

[13] Lydon, J, The Braganstown Massacre

Annals of Ulster

‘Sir John Mac Feorais, Earl of Lughbaidh, the one Gaidhel the most spirited and best of generosity and prowess that was in Ireland, was killed by his own people practising treachery upon him. Many of the foreigners and of the Gaidhil were killed in the same place likewise. The Blind Mac Cerbail, namely, Maelruanaigh, the most choice timpanist of Ireland and of Scotland and of the whole world, and it is not verified that an equal to him in that art ever came from the beginning of the world was killed, and another good brother of his was killed on the spot.

‘Sar h–Eoan Mac Fheorais, Irla Lughbaidh, in t–aen Gall ro bo beodha & rob ferr einech & egnom do bi I n–Erinn, do marbadh ar n–denum fheille d’a muinntir fein air. Moran do Gallaidh & do Gaidhelaibh maithibh do marbadh fos ar in lathair cetna. In Caech Mac Cerbaill, idon, Maelruanaigh, aen raga timpanach Erenn & Alban & in domain uile & ni derbhar a leitheid do thecht riamh o thus domain risin eladhain sin, a marbadh fein & derbrathair maith eile do ar in lathair cetna’.

Annals of LC

‘Sir John Mac Feorais, Earl of Lughmhagh, i.e. the most active, vigorous, hospitable and liberal baron that was in Erinn, was killed in treachery by his own people, viz, by the Foreigners of Oirghiall; and a great number of noble Foreigners and Gaeidhel were slain along with him; and the king of minstrelsy, i.e. Maelruanaidh Mac Cerbhaill, i.e. the Gilla–caech, and another brother of his, were slain along with him; and it is not known that there came, or will ever come, so good a harper.

‘Sir Seon mac Feorais, Iarla Lugmaigh .i. ant aen bharun do ba beodha & do ba brighmhuire, & dob ferr enech, & do po ba mo tindlaicthi do bhi a nErinn, do marbhadh a fill da mhuinntir fein .i. do Gallaibh Oirgiall, & moran do Ghalloibh & do Ghaidhelaibh maithi do mharbadh maraoen ris; agus ri na senma .i. Maelruanaigh Mac Cerbhaill .i. in giolla caech, & derbhrathair aili do do marbhadh maroen ris; & ni fes co tainicc na ticcfa choidhchi a chomhmaith do timpanach’.

Annals of Connacht

‘Sir Seon Mac Feorais, Earl of Louth, the most active and vigorous, generous and bountiful baron in Ireland, was treacherously killed by his own people, the Galls of Oriel, and many noble Galls and Gaels were killed along with him. And with him was killed Maelruanaid Mac Cerbaill the king of musicmaking, called Gilla Caech, and a brother of his; and none knows if there ever was or ever will be so good a player on the timpan’.

‘Sir Seon Mac Feorais Iarla Lugmaig .i. ant aenbarun doba beoda & dobo brigmure & dob ferr enech & dopo mo tindlaicti do bi a nErinn, do marbad a fill da muintir fein .i. do Gallaib Oirgiall, Do Gaidelaib maithi do marbad mar oen ris. Et Ri na Senma .i. Maelruanaiad Mac Cerbaill .i. in Gilla Caech & derbrathair aili do marbad mar oen ris, & ni fes co taniccc na ticcfa choidchi a commaith do timpanach’.

Annals of Conmacnoise

‘John Bremingham, earle of Louth, the best earle for worthyness, bounty, prowers & valour of his hands, was treacherously killed by his owen people, the English of Uriell, & alsoe killed at once with him many good and worthy Englishmen and Irishmen, Mollrony mc Keruell, chief mutition of the kingdom & his brother Gillekeigh were killed in that Company; of whome it is reported that noe man in any age eauer heard, or shall hereafter heare a better Tympanist’.

Annalium Hiberniae Chronicon ad annum (Friar John Clyn)

In vigilia Pentecostes, et beati Barnabe apostoli, dominus Johannes de Brimegham, comes de Lowht occiditur, contra eum conspiraverunt omnes de comitatu suo, nolentes eum regnare super eos; concilium fecerunt in unum, et in multitudine magna armatorum congregate, nulli de familia ejus parcentes, eum cum 160 et amplius, cum 2 fratribus ejus, et de cognomine ipsius circa novem interfecerunt. In istra strage et eodem die Cam O’Kayrwill, famosus ille timpanista et cytharista, in arte sua fenix, ea pollens prerogativa et virtute, cum aliis tympanistis discipulis ejus circiter 20 ibidem occubuit Iste…..[gap extent a few letters] vocatus Cam O’Kayrwyll, quia luscus erat nec habebat oculos rectos, sed oblique respiciens, et si non fuerat artis musice cordalis primus inventor, omnium tamen predecessorum et precedentium ipsum, ac contemporaneorum, corrector, doctor et director extitit.

On the vigil of Pentecost and of Blessed Barnabas the Apostle, Lord John de Brimingham, earl of Louth, is killed; all of his country conspired against him, not wishing that he should rule over them; they took council as one and gathered a great multitude of men; sparing none of his family, they killed him with 160 and more, with his two brothers and about nine of his name. In this slaughter and on the same day Cam O’Kayrwill, that famous timpanist and harper, supreme in his art, strong in his pre–eminence and excellence, died there with about 20 other student timpanists, He ……… was called Cam O’Kayrwell because he was one eyed and had crooked eyes, sideways looking; and if he were not the first inventor of the art of string music, he was the improver, teacher and director of all his predecessors, contemporaries and sucessors.

[14]

Lydon, James, The Braganstown Massacre, 1329, County Louth Archaeological Society Journal, Vol 19 no 1 (1978) p 5–16; Johannes Hereper de Athirde was one of the party taking part in the massacre of John de Birmingham.

[15]

Lydon, James, The Braganstown Massacre, 1329, County Louth Archaeological Society Journal, Vol 19 no 1 (1978) p5–16; Nicholaum Harpour was one of the people killed with John de Birmingham, presumably his Anglo–Norman minstrel.

[16] Curtis, E, Calendar of Ormand Deeds, Vol 1, No 862, a juror at an assize in Kilkenny

[17] Annals of Ulster, ‘Gilla–na–naem O’Conmaidh, ollam of Thomond, namely, in timpan playing, died’.
‘Gilla na Naem O Connmaidh, ollam Tuad Muman, idon, re timpanacht, d’eg’.

[18] Annals of the Four Masters, ‘Magrath O’Finnaghty, Chief Musician and Tympanist to the Sil–Murray, died’.
‘Mac Raith Ua Find ollamh Sil Muiredhaigh I seinm & tiompanacht d’ecc’.

[19] Annals of Ulster, ‘Bran Ua Brain, an eminent timpanist, died’.
‘Branh–Ua Brain, sai timpanaigh, d’eg’.

Annals of Connacht. ‘Bran O Brain a skilful timpanist, died’.
‘Bran h.Brain sai timpanaig quieuit’.

Annals of Clonmacnoise, ‘Brian o’Broyn a good Tympanist, died’.

[20] Curtis, E, Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol 2, No 169. witness.

[21] Curtis, E, Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol 2, No 188. ‘of Knoclegane, witness’.

[22] Southworth, J, The English Medieval Minstrel

[23] Annals of Connacht

‘The church on Church Island, Loch Gill, was burned this year and O’Cuirnin’s books, including the Lebar Gerr of the Muinter Cuirnin, and his splendid valuables, his ornamental cup, his timpan and his harp were burned in it’.

‘Tempall Insi Mori for Loch Gili do loscad in hoc anno & screptra h.Curnin for Lebar nGirr Muintire Curnin & a seot uasli & a copa cumtaig & a timpan & a chlarsech do loscad ann beus’.

[24] Curtis, E, Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol 3, p 23, at Kilkenny

[25] Annals of Ulster, ‘Aedh Ua Corcrain, namely, an eminent harper died this year’.
‘Aedh h–Ua Corcrain, .i. sai cruitire, do eg in bliadhain– si’.

[26] Annals of Connacht

‘Ruaidri son of Donnchad son of Eogan Oc O Dalaig, the most musical handed harpist in all Ireland, died’.

‘Ruaidri mac Dondchada meic Eogain Oic h.Dalaig, in lam chuil chlarsige is binne bai I nErinn uile, mortuus est’.

[27] McNeill, C, ed, Liber Primus Kilkenniensis, p100, 106.

[28] Berry, H. Reg of Wills and Inventories Diocese of Dublin

[29]

Fletcher, J, A, Drama and the Performing Arts in Pre–Cromwellian Ireland. quoting the Franchise Roll of the City of Dublin.

[30] Annals of LC

‘Mac Domhnaill of Alba, i.e. the young Lord, the best man in Erinn, or in Alba, in his time, was unfortunately slain by an Irish harper, i.e. Diarmaid Cairbrech, in his own chamber’.

‘Mac Domnuill na h–Alban, .i. in tigerna occ, an t–oen duiniu dob ferr ind Erinn na ind Albain a comaimsir friss, do marbad co mi–rathmar le fer tett Erennach inda seomrai fein, .i. Diermaid Cairbrech’.

Annals of Ulster

‘The son of Mac Domaill of Scotland (that is, Aengus), namely one who was called the lord Aag, was slain in treachery by an Irish harper, namely, Diarmait Ua Cairpri. And in Inverness he was slain’.

‘Mac Mic Domnaill na h–Alpan (.i. Aengus), .i. nech d’a n–gairthi an Tigerna Aacc, do marbadh a fill le fer’ted Erendach, .i. Diarmait h–Ua Cairpri, Ocus a n–Inber Nis do marbadh h–e’.

Annals of Connacht

‘Mac Domnaill of Scotland, the Young Lord, the best man in Ireland and Scotland, was unfortunately killed by an Irish harper, Diarmait O Cairbre, in his own room’.

‘Mac Domnail na hAlpan .i. an Tigerna Occ, ant aon nduine dob ferr a nErinn & a nAlpain, do marbadh co miratmur le fer tet Eriunnoch ina hseomra fein .i. Diarmait h. Cairbri

Annals of the Four Masters

‘John Oge, the son of John More of Ilay, was treacherously slain by Dermot Mac Carbry, an Ultonian harper, who was one of his own servants; butMac Carbry was quartered for this crime’.

Eoin Occ mac Mhoir a h–Ile do mharbhadh a mebail la fear ted Ultach bai I n–a gradhaibh fein Diarmait Mag Cairpre, & boill do dhenam de fein I n–a chionaidh’.

[31] Annals of the Four Masters, ‘Finn O’Haughluinn, Chief Tympanist of Ireland, died’.
‘Fionn Ua h–Anghluinn primh–thiompanach Ereann d’ecc’.

[32] Annals of Ulster

‘Florence Ua Corcrain, namely, an eminent harper and player of other stringed instruments and a very good vocalist and instrumentalist, and his wife died in the castle of Ua Raighilligh’.

‘Florinnti h–Ua Corcrain & a bean d’h–eg a caislen h–Ui Raighilligh, .i. sai cruitire & fhir thed & fer budh roibhind do bel & do laim’.

[33]

Early 16th century grave slabs at Jerpoint with harper and wife. The style of the ladies dress points towards it dating to before 1536. cf. Hunt, J, Irish Medieval Figure Sculpture, 86, 94, 96, 143–144, 175–176. (another possibility is a Wm Hanghreghan on record in Kilkenny in 1500, Liber Primus Kilkenniensis, ed C McNeill, p 116).

[34] Book of the Dean of Lismore, National Library of Scotland.

[35]

Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery in Ireland, Vol II, ed James Morrin, (1862). Preface xxviii, quotes a letter from the Memoranda Roll of 9o Henry VIII 1571, refering to ;– and that Ffyllip Bermingham, then Cheif Justice of the King’s Bench dwelled there.. having one John Harper in his service, unto the which John Harper the said Sir William and Sir Thomas, with other ther companyons on holydays resorted to lurne to harpe and to daunce, at the said Justice’s place where was then John Bermingham.

[36]

Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery in Ireland, ed James Morrin, (1861), p 69. 1541–2, Pardon of Owen Keynan of Cappervarget near Rathehangan, in the county of Kildare, harper, otherwise called Owen Keynan, servant of Gerald, late Earl of Kildare, otherwise Owen the Rhymer, otherwise Owen Keynan the poet, otherwise Owen Keynan Keyeghe, the blind bard; and Cornelius Keynan, son of Owen Keynan Keyeghe, otherwise Cornelius the bard. Jan. 27, 32o

[37]

Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy, pp 3421–24, MS 12367(Ciii 2), completed in mid October 1552 and mostly written in Cahermacnaughton, Co Clare.

Dar lium is inscribhtha cach ni da cluinim & co hairghthi Ua Briain do tabhairt luach xx.it marg to timpan d’O Chundmhaigh & olcas a dil air.

I think it is worth writing everything I hear & particularly O’Brien giving a tiompan valued at twenty marks to O Conmee & Little he deserves it.

(Noted and contributed by Sean Donnelly)

[38]

Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery in Ireland, ed James Morrin, (1861), Vol 1, p 293. Membrane 5, Feb 8, 1553. Edward O’Floyne of Meylerston, harper, Pardoned along with a number of others headed by Walter Bermyngham of Meylerston in the county of Kildare, gent.

[39]

Carolan, N, Irish Folk Music Studies, Vol 5–6, 59.

Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Ireland of the Reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth, PRO, (1860), Vol 2, p 464, no 24, Vol CIV, August 20 1583

Wallop to Walsyngham, The letter from the Privy Council for Sir John O’Reilly was delivered on the 14th by blind Crewse the harper. [Her maiden name was Marward].

The bracketed line in italics appears only in this printed calendar. It is not in the direct transcript published by Alan Fletcher in Drama and the Performing Arts in Pre Cromwellian Ireland, p 271, or referred to by any other sources. Its meaning is therefore unclear, but it might be relevant to note that if the ‘r’ in Marward is a mistake for ‘c’ then it might be a hint that somebody believed that Crewse’s maternal side connected with the MacWard bardic family.

[40]

Donnelly, Sean, Faithful Harpers and Phantom Pipers; The Fate and Memory of the Last Earls of Desmond, 1583 and 1601, quoting O’Muireadhaigh, Reaamonn, (ed) Aos Dana na Mumhan 1584, Irisleabhar Muighe Nuadhat 1960, 82.

An inquisition taken at Cork on the 8 November 1584 listing the ‘bards, chroniclers and rymers’ in Desmond Meolmyrry mc shane of Castletown harper seruantes to

Owohny mc meolmvry his son de eadem harper the
ffar gan anym his brother de eadem harper
Dermod odwedy harper
Rwshell oge odwedy mayterless
william Roe odwedy harper

[41] O’Neill, F, Irish Minstrells and Musicians

[42]

Donnelly, Sean, Faithful Harpers and Phantom Pipers: The Fate and Memory of the Last Earls of Desmond, 1583 and 1601. quoting Murphy, John A, ed, The Desmond Survey (2009), p 42. CELT; Corpus of Electronic Texts. ‘The vill and land Droomebegg in the parish of Kreans,… ½ carucate great measure now or lately in the tenure or occupation of John mcSawerly, harper; — ½

[43]

Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Ireland, of the Reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth, PRO (1860), Vol 4, p 371. no 35, Vol CLV, Nov 1590.

Donoghe O’Conner, Slygo, to Burghley, Answer to such matters as he hath been charged with, He denies that he ever Offended Her Majesty in thought, word or deed. 1, He never had any conferences with one Richard Barret, harper, or any other whomsoever, of any matter that any way tended to the hurt of Her Majesty or the state of this country and Ireland. 2, He never wrote or appointed the said Barret to write in his name to the Irish Bishop, commonly called the Bishop of Tuam now remaining beyond seas.

[44] Donnelly, S, Ceol 21

[45]

Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Ireland, of the Reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth, PRO, (1860), Vol 4, p 440, no 25, Vol CLXI, December 2 1591.

Lord Deputy to Burghley, … It has transpired that ‘one William Bathe, a gentleman of the pale, dwelling near to Dublin, One known to your Lordship for his skill in music and for his late device of the new harp which he presented to Her Majesty’ who has lately gone to Spain, did at his departure leave a cipher with William Nugent whereby to carry on a correspondence on matters of State’.

[46]

Calander of the State Papers relating to Ireland, of the Reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth, PRO, (1860), Vol 5, p350. quoting Vol CLXXXI, no 71, July 31, 1595.

‘one Peter McMahon, who saw the letters aforesaid in the priest’s ‘capcase’, being then in my Lord of Louth’s house. This Peter is nephew to the priest and son to a townsman of Drogheda, and himself practiseth to play on the harp and is now in Ireland.’

[47]

Fletcher, Alan, Drama and the Performing Arts, quoting a letter of Sir Henry Wallop and Sir Robert Gardner, PRO SP 63/186,f.27

[48] Donnelly, S, Ceol 21

[49]

Englische Musiker am danischen Hof zur Zeit Christian IV. Listed at Court between 6/11/1601 to 9/10/1602, Harfenist, paid 200 Daler. Was therefore probably the harper reaching the end of his contract referred to in a note dated 24 September 1602, from King Christian IV of Denmark to his knight Marshall telling him to ‘keep the harp as we paid for it’. ‘Carolus Oralii’ is possibly the harper Conor Duff O’Reilly who was the subject of two satires, one starting ‘Abhac beg nach adhbar gaire’ A little dwarf that is no food for Laughter, and the other, attributed to Padruig MacAlionduinn on ‘Conchubhar beag dilios dubh’ and beginning ‘Tre chuisle gan tuirsi le siansa suilt’.

[50] O’Neill

[51] O’Neill

[52] O’Neill

[53] Donnelly, S, Ceol 21

[54] Donnelly, S, Ceol 21

[55]

Pierse, John, Nicholas Dall Pierse of Co Kerry, Harper, Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society, (1973), V1, pp 40–75.

[56] Donnelly, S, Ceol 21

[57]

Englische Musiker am danischen Hof zur Zeit Christian IV, was the incumbent harper in 1621 and was painted by Reinhold Timm circa 1620. The picture is oil on canvas and measures 207 x 113.5 cm, It was auctioned by Christies on the 9/7/1976 and is now privately owned in Holland.

[58]

Fletcher, Alan, Drama and the Performing Arts, quoting NA: 2/469/10(item 93), f.4 mentioned in a will dated 30 April 1627.

[59]

Ua Suilleabhain, S & Donnelly S, The Music has Ended, Celtica, (1991), Volume 22;– identified as the harper to Domhnall O Donnabhain, chief of Clann Chathail and the subject of a lament by the poet Tadhg Oiltach O an Chainte.

[60]

Pierse, John, Nicholas Dall Pierse of Co Kerry, Harper, Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society, (1973), V1, pp 40–75.

[61]

Prendergast, John Patrick, The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland, (1870), p 266–267. In 1663 the army lately planted in Ireland formed a plot to seize the Castle of Dublin, and to overthrow the government being discontented at the proceedings of the Court of Claims. Amongst the vast mass of intelligence furnished to the Duke of Ormond, then Lord Lieutenant is the following conversation between Colonel Edward Warren and an Irish harper;– ‘Colonel Edward Warren being at Rathmolyon in the barony of Moyfenragh, in the county of Meath, discoursing with Richard Malone, a blind harper, aged thirty six years, asked him how many governments he remembered in his tyme? Malone answered that he remembered several, naming the several alterations during these twenty–one years. Whereunto the said Warren answered that before it ere long he might add one more government to the rest’. Carte, MSS, Vol G.G, p 389. Endorsed in the Dukes hand; ‘Concerning Colonel Edward Warren’. Warren was executed with Major Alexander Jephson, 15th July 1663.

[62]

Account Book of the Rev Andrew Rowen, Rector of Dunaghy, Co Antrim, c. 1672–1680. in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Vol 5, (1942), 67–76.

[63]

JRSAI, Vol 67,(1937), p305. An Advertisement of 1678, William HONNEGHAN, alias WHOGHAN, an Irishman, that plays well on the Harp, aged about 40, of middle stature, thick set, short black curl’d hair, of a pale brown complexion, Run away from his Master on the 11th instant with 100£. Whosoever Doth apprehend or discover him, so as he may be seized, and give notice thereof to Mr Pitt at the Plow in St Paul’s Church Yard, or to Mr Anthony Best in Little Lincoln’s Inn Fields, near Plow Stables, shall have Five pounds for a Reward, and his charges borne. The above notice appeared among the advertisements in ‘The London Gazette’ for October 21 1678.
AUBREY J. TOPPIN.

[64] Donnelly, S, Ceol 21

[65]

Ellis, Steven, G, ed. The Common bench Plea Roll of Edward IV, 1479–80, in Analecta Hibernica, No 31,(1984), pp 28 and 51. William Marshall the harper of Dublin;–

Memorandum quod Willelmus Dongan venit hic hoc termino & pecijt securitatem pacis versus Willelmum Vriell de Dublin, taillour & Willelmum Marshall de eadem harper de armis.

[66]

Prendergast, John & Quinn, David B, eds. Calendar of the Irish Council Book, AD. 1581–1585, in Analecta Hibernica

No 24, (1967), p 154.

No 272. 9 October 1584, Recognizance of John Plunket of Loughcrew and Thomas Fleming of Sidan in £100 for the appearance of Cahil McShercoile, harper, before lord deputy and council in Dublin, 17 October next. [In Latin’ Prendergast notes].

Mellifont, 9 October 1584 (By a marginal entry it is recorded that the said Cahil appeared on said October 17).

[67]

Marron, Lawrence, ed. Documents from the State Papers Concerning Miler McGrath, in Archivium Hibernicum, Vol 21. (1958), p 170.

The said archbishop to prevent and make the same in all places known, appointed his brother Nyell and his harper Gillpatrick Oge…

[68]

Billinge, M and Shaljean, B, The Dalway or Fitzgerald harp (1621), in Early Music, Vol XV. No 2, (May 1987), p 75.

[a]

The three harpers, Rory Albanagh, Ned Scott and Darby Scott are probably representatives from different generations of the same family. Scott as a surname is common in the north of Ireland, mostly the result of 17th century immigration from the Scottish/English border country. However in the case of these two harpers it looks more like an Anglicisation of the original Gaelic form ‘Albanagh’, which means an inhabitant of Scotland. At least it does in modern Gaelic, but at that period in Ireland it was also applied to people, especially those of Norman origin who had for what ever reason spent some considerable period ‘in Scotland’.

Two major Irish families who acquired the names Albanagh were firstly a branch of the Bermingham family, whose genealogy has been preserved in a 17th century text, and whose name subsequently became ‘Scott’, and secondly one of the branches of the Burkes represented by Edmund Albanach (de Burgo), who flourished circa 1335 x 1340. (He was said to have acquired the name after having been taken prisoner by Bruce and then remained in Scotland for a number of years). Although as a suggestion it is rather tentative, there might be a pointer from the use by one of the harpers of the forename ‘Ned’ which is short for ‘Edmund,’ towards a connection with the latter of those two Norman families.

It is also worth noting that further traditional references to a family of harpers by the name of ‘Scot’ who were said to have flourished around the beginning of the 17th century appear both in an account by the harper Echlin O’Kean taken down in 1779 and in Edward Bunting’s 1840 collection which includes music attributed to them.

For the Bermingham family see;– Nollaig O Muraile, ‘The Celebrated Antiquary Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh’, (c. 1600 – 1671), and for Edmund Albanach see A.J.Otway–Ruthven, ‘A History of Medieval Ireland’.

[b]

The authority for these names are based on MacLysaght, Edward, The Surnames of Ireland, Sixth Edition, (Irish Academic Press Ltd, 1991).

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