ROBERT BRUCE ARMSTRONGS PAPERS
The Irish and the Highland Harps by R B Armstrong remains one of the essential works for the study of these instruments and has stood the test of time better than most other contemporary harp related publications. The earliest evidence that he was planning such a work appears in July 1899 when he placed an inquiry in the monthly antiquarian publication Scottish Notes And Queries, but it only ever seems to have elicited one reply which was published in the following issue. By this time he had already established himself as a serious historical scholar with the publication in 1883 of his The history of Liddesdale, Eskdale, Ewesdale, Wauchope and the Debatable land. From the twelfth century to 1530. pt 1. The second part covering the later period was ready in draft form at the time of his death and is now along with that part of his papers in the manuscript collections of the National Library of Scotland.
As an Ulster Scot, clearly aware of and interested in his familys origins in the Scottish Border country, he had been resident in Edinburgh from at least 1878 when he was living at 106 Princes Street at the time of his election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The following year his paper on The Old Church and Cemetery of Airth, Stirlingshire was published in the societies proceedings, his interest in that area clearly being influenced by the Bruce side of his family. However this side of the family history was actually taken on by his elder brother, Major William Bruce Armstrong, of Pirbright Manor, Woking and formerly of the 7th Dragoon Guards, who was to publish his own history of The Bruces of Airth and their Cadets in 1892, a book which was also to become a classic genealogical work of its kind.
Robert Bruce Armstrong was one of six children comprising apart from William, of Emily, John, Henry, James, (a Captain in the 26th Cameronian Regiment) and Robert, the youngest. All of them apart from William, (who had married Charlotte Priscilla GodwinAusten of Shalford House, Surrey), dying unmarried. Their parents were John Strong Armstrong and Emily Bruce and through both family lines there were strong clerical connections, especially with Ballynahinch in County Down. Their paternal uncle was the Rev George Armstrong and their paternal grandfather was the Reverend James Armstrong (17801839), who was in turn the son of John Armstrong, Presbyterian Minister of Ballynahinch (174480), and his wife, a daughter of the Reverend John Strong and so having connections going back to John Livingston of Killinchy, one of the founders of Irish Presbyterianism.
On their mothers side a maternal uncle was the Rev William Bruce (17901868), minister of the 1st Presbyterian Congregation in Belfast and their maternal Grandfather was the Rev Dr William Bruce,(17571841), the previous minister of 1st Presbyterian Congregation of Belfast and the founder of the Belfast Academy, as well as being a major and controversial figure in Ulster politics. It was through his mothers side of the family that Robert Bruce Armstrong also seems to have had some connection with the Dublin Notaries and Stockbrokers Bruce & Symes, a connection which might account for his independent means as the profession or occupation entries noted him during the census records for his Edinburgh years. A fact which was confirmed by the large and valuable list of stocks and shares held by him which following his death were recorded in the Inventory of his movable estate.
Initially on moving to Edinburgh he stayed in lodgings, but between the 1891 and 1901 censuses he had moved to Number 6 Randolph Cliff, an extension of the new town on the south side of the Dean Bridge overlooking the Water of Leith. He also subsequently purchased number 5, the house next door. According to the 1901 census return at that time he employed a cook, a Jane Farquhar from Kirkwall in Orkney and a housemaid, Eliza MacLean from Gairloch in Rossshire, (who at that time would no doubt have been Gaelic speaking and given his own Border connections would have had most of Scotland ethnologically covered). R B Armstrong died at his Edinburgh home in 1913 aged 75 years and the death was recorded by the nurse who was present at the time. The age given was also consistent with his ages as given in the census records so it is reasonable to place his date of birth as sometime during the year of 1838. There is however a discrepancy with a short account of him given in an article relating to his donations to the Museum in Dublin which states that he was born two years earlier in 1836 at Eccles Street, Dublin. It also goes on to say that Robert was intended for the legal profession and was articled to a firm of Dublin solicitors, (presumably Bruce & Symes), but never pursued this career. Instead after the death of his father in 1864 he and his brother, Henry spent a good deal of their time travelling in India, China, Japan and Norway.
As a fairly wealthy man of independent means he seems to have primarily indulged his antiquarian interests, a passion apparently shared by his family in general. His father John Strong Armstrong had been the president of the Dublin Historical Society and his brother Henry was a long time member of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland. Although from as early as 1865 when he seems to have been living at his brother Henrys home in Burnchurch, County Kilkenny, Robert had also contributed articles and made donations of finds to the association, he does not appear to have joined that association until 1889, the year after Henrys death when Robert was then elected as a fellow in what the following year became the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.
Robert Bruce Armstrong died in his home in Randolph Cliff on the morning of the 18th February 1913 attended it would seem by the nurse who in fact was the person recorded as officially reporting his death to the registration officials. His will which had been drawn up on the 4th March 1912 had appointed two local Edinburgh lawyers as his executors and apart from a few small legacies to some distant relatives barely mentions any other living relatives. His instruction was that he was to be buried beside his late brother Henry in the Brookwood Cemetery near Woking in Surrey, England, in a plot already purchased by him from the London Necropolis Company. The testament goes into very precise details of the distribution of his estate, from provision for his domestic servants to where the various parts of a candlestick to be offered to the Dublin Museum Authorities were to be found. So it is reasonable to assume that it accounted all those papers still in his possession at the time of his death.
His first major legacy was to the Museum of Antiquities at Bergen in Norway of such articles of my Norwegian or Foreign plate and ornaments as shall be of sufficient value and interest to be deposited for exhibition in said museum, in recognition of the pleasure derived by him and his late brother Henry during our frequent visits to Norway. This was followed by I give to the Council of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland, all the manuscripts notes and transcripts relating to or connected with my work The History of Liddesdale, Eskdale, Ewesdale, Wauchope and the Debatable Land or with the Borders generally, together with all lithographs, engraved plates, drawings, designs or other illustrations prepared or intended for the said History and the Copyright of the same work to be used by them as they shall think proper. Also my own copy of the said work, in which are many manuscript notes. I give to the Royal Irish Academy Dublin all the drawings, rubbings, copper plates, zink blocks, stamps for binding lithographs, prints and negatives, Photographs prepared for use or used in my works, The Irish and the Highland Harp and English and Irish Instruments. I also give and bequeath to the said Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, the copyright of the said works and the remainder of any copies, and also my own copies in which are numerous notes. I give to the Authorities of the Museum of Science and Art, Kildare Street Dublin all the Ancient Musical Instruments, tutors and music whether printed or in Manuscript for Ancient Musical Instruments of which I may die possessed and I direct the said Authorities to select there from such as they may require and consider suitable for the said Museum and to distribute the residue (if any), of my said Musical Instruments, tutors and Music which may not be so selected amongst such Museums or Libraries wheresoever situated as they think desirable.
The testament continues at great length, and goes into considerable detail on even minor points. In one case where a Spode dessert set was bequeathed including some advice on how more plates could be obtained on sending a sample of the pattern to Mortlocks of Oxford Street in London and in another including the caveat that The Scotts of Buccleugh if not previously sent is to be sent to the Hawick Library for reference only. It would therefore seem that one notable omission had already been disposed of before the will was made in 1912. If the testament is read carefully it seems clear that there is no reference to any manuscript notes and transcripts made in the course of the research for his book on the Irish and the Highland Harps comparable to those given to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland with the Liddesdale material.
That however is a separate puzzle and although there are some possible avenues worth exploring, identifying the current locations of the legacies that were mentioned was the first priority. The Liddesdale material given to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland has proved the easiest to trace. Armstrongs own copy of the book with its interleaved manuscript notes was retained by the society and can be found in its library, now under the umbrella of the National Museums of Scotland. The rest of the material was passed to the National Library of Scotland manuscript department, except for the Photographs and drawings of Border architecture which were more appropriately placed in the archives of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.
Turning to Robert Bruce Armstrongs legacies to the Dublin based Institutions the picture is less clear. The National Museum of Science and Art it would appear had already received donations of music related items while he was still alive. Shortly after the publication of The Irish and the Highland Harps, Armstrong had given the museum copies of thirtyfour of the illustrations used in that work, (see item number 10, bound into the main part of the R.I.A. MS. He had also at some point donated a musical game invented by Anne Young of Edinburgh, (1803) and a Welsh triple harp by John Richards of Llanwrst, (1780), along with several other instruments.
Following his death his bequest included a wirestrung Irish Harp, a French Harp by Holtzmann and a portable Harp by Egan of Dublin. There was also a Spinet by Thomas Saxby, of York, (1772) along with the instruments, instruction books, tutors and old music mainly used in his work on English and Irish Instruments of 1908. Exactly how much of this material was passed on to the current National Museum of Ireland, successor to the Museum of Science and Art is an ongoing investigation. In regard to his legacy to the Royal Irish Academy the investigation is also still in progress, but Armstrongs own copy of his Irish and the Highland Harps has been identified in their collection and like Armstrongs own copy of his Liddesdale book contains additional material bound
in with it.
R. B. Armstrongs copy of his The Irish and the Highland Harps in the Royal Irish Academy
R.I.A. Library Shelf Mark SR 23 G 35 (now shelved at Bay 25 B)
This volume is number 81 of the original individually numbered limited edition first published in 1904. It contains numerous enclosures, mostly dating to the year of publication or later but with a few prepublication proof corrections for the pictorial plates. The additional manuscript material varies from loose items, mostly contained in two envelopes attached inside the front and back covers, or interleaved and bound in between the pages of the book.
The enclosures vary from photographs, drawings, printed material, (mostly newspaper cuttings of reviews of the book), hand written notes by Armstrong and a number of letters to Armstrong in response to the work including a number from W. H. Grattan Flood. None of this addition material had been foliated so the numbers given in the following lists reflect the order at the time it was examined and with the librarians permission, copied to compile this catalogue.
Envelope inside Front Cover
- Letter from Thomas Westrop dated 4 July 1904 regarding drawings of stone carvings which he intended to look out, specifically mentioning Innismurray, Ardmore, Clonmacnoise, Durrow and Jerpoint.
- Letter from Thomas Westrop dated 12 July 1904 enclosing tracings of harps from Irish carvings along some comments on the carvings.
- Tracings of drawings of stone carvings; Clonmacnoise, Ardmore, Durrow and Inishmurray, presumably those referred to by Thomas Westrop.
- Letter from R. Langrishe dated 3 March 1905, thanking RBA for two illustrations to be added to the copy of the work already in his possession. The Council of the R & A would be very grateful for a copy which if entrusted to my care in our library shall be most carefully kept. Your wishes as to information sent to you of any specimens which may be unknown to you shall be duly recorded in the next number of our Journal, as unanimously approved at the meeting of the Council on Tuesday last
Additional pencil note by RBA at the end of the letter;
The request that the local antiquarians should enquire as to the existence of specimens of the Irish Harp in Houses in their own neighbourhoods was never inserted in the Journal and I did not care to make any further move in the matter so time passed and the chance of hearing of additional specimens was lost.
- Letter from J. J. Buckley of the Dublin Museum, Art and Industrial Division, Kildare Street. dated 26 December 1905. Gives details of a harp recently bought by the museum, (see below number 10), that had belonged to a family named McDowell of Dublin and dated 1783. Also mentions the accession of a small harp by Egan, Read and Taylor of Aungiers Street, Dublin with a suggested date of 1830 to 1840, plus information regarding the health of Mr Longfield.
- Letter from W. H. Grattan Flood dated 6 January 1906 from Rosemount, Enniscorthy. Returns photos and Mr Buckleys letter, (presumably the one preceding this), comments on a harp that had been in the possession of Earl ONeill in 1829 and gives the Gaelic inscriptions from it along with translation. Promises to keep making enquiries regarding Patrick Byrne and to return you Dauney & Dalyell before the end of the month.
- Letter from W. H. Grattan Flood dated 13 January 1906 from Rosemount, Enniscorthy. Gives the address for sending a copy of Armstrongs book to St Patricks College, Maynooth, comments on an article by Miss Hortense Panum and requests the loan of more books, (Aird, Oswald, Thomson, Walshe and Rutherfords), if Armstong has copies. Had also had contact with the last survivor of the Drogheda harp Society who knew Patrick Byrne.
- Letter from William Savage dated June 1908, No 8 Lincoln Avenue, Belfast. Refers to a previous letter in December 1906 regarding the OBrian Harp in Trinity College. He and his brother Robert Savage have now succeeded in making a facsimile and have restored lost portions. Goes into details of what that involved and sends Armstrong a photograph of the completed harp.
- Photograph of Harper from the Judgement of Solomon Stone carving at Ardmore, Co Waterford.
- Two photographs of the harp referred to in the letter from J.J.Buckley of the 3 March 1905. See number 5 above.
- Pencil notes by RBA written on Royal Hibernian Hotel, Dublin note paper, concerning the string lengths and gauges for a 38 string Hewson made harp in the Dublin Museum plus notes of inscriptions including that it was made by Francis Hewson for Paul Smith.
- Small paper printed on both sides with copies of woodcuts and book title pages dating 1529, 1534, 1591 and 1620.
- Cutting from The Connoisseur showing a photo of the BogOak Harp in the collection of Lord Llangattock, Hendre, Monmouthshire. (see Armstrongs comments referred to below in the additions to the main volume).
Envelope inside Back Cover
- Photograph of the Facsimile of the Trinity College Harp made by James and William Savage referred to in item number 8 in the front envelope.
- Photograph of RBA with the Bunworth Harp, (see pp 91-96 of The Irish and the Highland Harps) Robert Bruce Armstrong author of The Irish and the Highland Harps written on the back in pencil.
- Photograph mounted on photoboard, showing RBA playing his harp made by Egan for the Belfast Harp Society. This is the same picture as used for the frontispiece of The Irish and the Highland Harps. Pencil note on back Wire strung harp by Egan with marks on the sounding board by which the blind boys knew the notes of the different strings.
- Photograph, mounted on photoboard showing RBA playing his small Egan, Royal Portable Harp. Pencil note on back reads Egan's Irish Harp. [Unlike the previous picture of RBA with the Belfast Harp Society harp which shows him in a playing position with the harp on the left shoulder, this one shows him with this harp on the right shoulder. The position of the furniture and decorative items on the wall behind him indicated that neither picture has been reversed in printing.]
- Photograph mounted on photoboard of a harp on its back. Back of mounting board has the photographers logo, Alex A Ingles, Landscape & Architectural Photographers, Rock House Carlton Hill, Edinburgh. There is also a pencil note by RBA, Irish Harp Edinburgh Museum, probably copied from Hempsons harp at Downhill.
Cross-reference link to article that includes a reproduction of this photograph.
Additions and Inserts into the main body of the text
Note: The first section consists of items which have been pasted onto sheets of paper of similar size to the original printed pages of the volume and are bound in as an additional section between the front cover and the original first printed page of the book.
- Newspaper cuttings from The Scotsman published on the 14 & 16 May 1904 containing reviews for The Irish and the Highland Harps.
- Newspaper cutting from The Northern Whig, 28 May 1904, reviewing The Irish and the Highland Harps.
Newspaper clipping referenced in Item No. 3
- A short cutting from The Scotsman for the 6 March 1905 giving notice of the two extra plates with portraits of the harpers Patrick Quin and Byrne along with the supplement on Patrick Byrne.
- Newspaper cutting from The Cork Constitution for 8 June 1904 with review of The Irish and the Highland Harps.
- Newspaper cuttings from The Glasgow Herald of 3 June 1904, The Irish Times of the 17 June 1904, and The Kilkenny Moderator of the 15 June 1904 with reviews of The Irish and the Highland Harps.
- Pages taken from The Celtic Review, volume 1, number 2 containing a long review of The Irish and the Highland Harps. The printed price of 4 guineas for the book given in the review has been changed by hand to read £3. A critical pencil comment is made by RBA at the end referenced back to a marked section of the review.
- Page from the Journal of the Kildare Archaeological Society volume 4, number 4, July 1904 with review of The Irish and the Highland Harps.
- Newspaper cuttings from The Athenaeum number 4056, 22 July 1905, review of The Irish and the Highland Harps, with two comments relating to the review added by RBA at the end.
- A hand written note by RBA
The Queen Mary Harp, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol XXXIX, page 9, The carving is difficult to make out upon the harp itself; but a Fellow of the Society, Mr Robert Bruce Armstrong, with singular skill & patience has traced the design with a needle point onto Sheets of gelatine and has produced a complete illustration of the harp and its decoration in coloured plates in his newly published beautiful volume, The Irish and the Highland Harps.
- A Certificate of thanks from the Department of Agricultural and Technical Instruction for Ireland, Dublin Museum of Science and Art, to R. B. Armstrong Esq. dated at Leinster House, Dublin, 10 October 1904. For Thirtyfour Illustrations of Irish and Scottish Harps, &c, from Musical Instruments, by Robert Bruce Armstrong: The Irish and the Highland Harps, Edinboro 1904. also signed by Thomas H. Longfield, Keeper.
- At the title page, a small slip of pink paper has been inserted with printed;-
DIRECTIONS FOR THE BINDER
If possible, remove the Plate, The OFfogerty Harp and place it to face page 80.
Insert the plate Patrick Quin, to face page 78
Insert the Supplement and the Plate, Byrne, a Blind Irish Harper, to face page 136
Copies of the additional Plates may not be procurable hereafter, so it is requested that those who are in possession of copies of The Irish and the Highland Harps will have the additional Plates inserted, as without them the Volumes will be incomplete.
- A pencil sketch entitled The Irish Harper is pasted (along one edge only), to a blank page of the book. On the back is written in the hand of RBA, that this depicts a scene from a poem where the harper mourns the death of his dog Tray.
- Opposite page 4, Hand written notes by RBA from A Social History of Ireland, by W. P. Joyce, vol 1. Headed Harpers and pasted up from strips of paper.
- Opposite page 6, Hand written note by RBA, titled Head dress of Irish women.
- Inserted before page 8 of the book, four pages of hand written notes by RBA pasted up from strips of paper. Mostly items copied from published sources with occasional additional comment.
- Page 8 has two hand written footnotes added by RBA referring to the last paragraph on that page. The first is referenced to the word encyclopaedias in the text using a plus sign inside a circle and reads Chambers. The second is referenced using just a plus sign to to the word described further on in the same sentence and this reads, The Consience of Coraile by F. Frankfort Moore.
- Opposite page 9, hand written note concerning the quotation of a passage from the poem The Giants Causeway printed in Buntings Irish Music Collection of 1809. The Poem was not published until 1811 and in the published Poem the lines commencing Een Kings do not appear I was not aware of this until two or more years after The Irish & Highland Harps was published Signed and dated 17 March 1906 by RBA.
- Opposite page 10, Hand written notes by RBA mostly taken from Grattan Flood and pasted up from strips of paper.
- Opposite page 11, Hand written notes by RBA mostly taken from Grattan Flood and pasted up from strips of paper.
- Opposite page 14, Hand written notes by RBA mostly taken from Grattan Flood and pasted up from strips of paper.
- Opposite page 16, Picture of the Ivory Harp in the Louvre.
- Opposite page 17, one and a half pages of hand written notes by RBA mostly taken from Gratton Flood and pasted up from strips of paper.
- After page 18, three pages of hand written notes by RBA mostly taken from GrattonFlood and pasted up from strips of paper.
- Opposite page 19, a composite page made up of hand written notes by RBA on strips of paper pasted up along with a cutting from the Connoisseur volume 1 number 1, September 1901. The note on the top strip of paper refers to a thin paper photograph copy of a painting in the church of S. Maria at Gulbies in Italy represented in The Cities of Umbria by Edward Hutton, which RBA thought was singularly like a Celtic or Irish instrument which is also added at this section.
The cutting from the Connoiseur is of an advert with picture of a double harp for sale which also includes a picture of the instrument. This is surrounded by RBAs notes on a similar instrument which he had been shown at Erards a few years ago along with detailed notes on its construction with rough sketches signed by RBA and dated March 1906.
- After page 20, three pages of hand written notes by RBA, mostly taken from Gratton Flood and pasted up from strips of paper.
- Opposite page 22, hand written notes by RBA mostly taken from Gratton Flood and pasted up from strips of paper.
- Opposite page 23, hand written notes by RBA mostly taken from Gratton Floodand pasted up from strips of paper.
- Opposite page 25, two letters from W. H. Gratton Flood, the first dated 1 June 1908. Relates details passed on from a friend of Floods who lived near Jerpoint on the harp. Suggests that it resembles the Lamont harp and that the name of the inscription was William OHoulahan (or OBanahan) and states that the OHoulahans were a wealthy Irish family from that area.
Second letter dated 26 June 1905, mentions having been in Co Kilkenny for 10 days and returned to find Armstrongs letter and a copy of the Harp book.
- Opposite page 26, hand written note by RBA taken from A Social History of Ireland by W. P. Joyce, volume 1. This item is actually loose and not attached.
- Opposite page 30, hand written note by RBA concerning finds of Bone or Ivory harp pegs. Suggests that they were made as replacements for lost or broken metal pegs.
- Opposite page 34, Layout sheet for the plate opposite page 24 of the printed book of the harp at Jerpoint Abbey, includes the two original photographs. This sheet is loose and not attached to the book.
- Opposite page 36, Letter from W. H. Gratton Flood dated 7 October 1905. Subjects covered range from publications by both parties, comments on playing the harp with long or sharp nails, (in connection with a communication that Flood had received from a learned Jesuit priest quoting a couplet from King Horn), and an inquiry regarding how RBA was getting on with the new volume on the harp? I am now working on the Bagpipe.
- Hand written notes by RBA, To Face 38. Starts with a comment on Buntings 1840 Collection, page 23 with its statement that, Thirty was the usual number of strings found on all the harps at the Belfast meeting in 1792, then continues with notes taken from the Annals of the Irish Harpers by Miss Milligan Fox, pp 281-282 with details of stringing and numbers of strings, (RBA makes an error here by giving attributing 32 strings to the Downhill Harp when in fact it only has thirty tuning pins). He comes to the conclusion that when the harp was made and the strings tuned to the proper pitch the harper probably decided on the position of the sisters and then tuned the instrument.
- Opposite page 40. An undated letter from Thomas P ONolan, MA, FRUI, First Celtic Sen mod, BA, TCD. in which he comments on your splendid volume on Musical Instruments were lent to me. If ever you bring out a new edition perhaps you may find my remarks on the Gaelic musical terms useful OCurry was much too sweeping in his condemnation of them. This is followed by two lists of Gaelic terms with suggested translations.
- Opposite page 52, Small hand written note by RBA saying that Mr William Savage of 9 Vicinage Park, Belfast writes to say that he has in his possession a fine specimen of an old Irish harp which belonged to Valentine Rainey or Ranney.
- Opposite page 52, Hand written note by RBA concerning the poem The Giantss Causeway, printed in Buntings Irish Music Collection 1809. Gives the version actually published by William Hamilton Drummond in 1811 with the added observation I prefer the lines as they were originally written. See also entry number 17 above.
- Opposite page 58, Hand written note by RBA concerning the use of the letters IHS to signify Jesu hominum salvator.
- Page 59. An added hand written footnote to the page concerning the restoration of the Trinity College Harp. It reads A Mr Cullin I think RBA.
(Dr Robert Ball is the man usually credited with that work).
- Before page 63, Layout sheet for the plate opposite page 62 of the Brass Mountings for Harp found at Ballinderry. Includes the two original photographs. NB, this is a loose sheet and not attached.
- Opposite page 66, Layout sheet for plate opposite page 66 of the remains of the Fitzgerald or Dalway Harp. Includes the two original photographs. NB. This is a loose sheet, not attached.
- Before page 79, Letter from Gratton Flood dated 28 August 190[5?], mostly mentioning a number of harps offered for sale in J. G. Morleys recent list. Ends with a PS thanking RBA for sending a copy of The Scotsman, (presumably with a review of Floods book).
- Opposite page 80, Layout sheet for the plate opposite page 80 of the OFfogerty Harp. Includes the original photograph. NB, This is a loose sheet, not attached.
- Opposite page 86, Hand written note by RBA dated 1912, giving his doubts over the suggestion that the Belfast Museum Harp could have belonged to Arthur ONeill.
- Before page 87, Hand written note by RBA taken from a letter from Sir Charles H. Brett to a Miss Jane Bruce of Belfast dated 39th November 1908 giving details about Edward Lindsay, the owner of the above harp before it was acquired by the Belfast Museum.
- Opposite page 96, Original photo of the Hollybrook harp used in the book, plus a photo of the other side of the harp and of the harp hanging high up on a gallery pillar, probably in Hollybrook House.
- Between pages 100 and 101, Letter from Grattan Flood dated 11 May 1905. A rather scrappy letter reading more like a series of random notes. Includes an inquiry about how RBA liked the History of Irish Music, Regrets on reading of the death of Mr John Glen, comments on the inscription of one of the Dublin Society Egan harps and references to the OConnor Don harp and Patrick Quin.
- Between pages 106 and 107, Hand written note by RBA with an extract from The Life of Daniel OConnell by Michael MacDonald, page 351.
- Between pages 108 and 109, Hand written note by RBA concerning the Bogoak Harp illustrated in the Connoisseur, vol XVII of November 1907 p 153. Suggests it is fairly modern and not likely to be of bogoak or found in a bog, unless placed there intentionally.
Note: The following items consist of a number of letters bundled together and inserted between the end of the Irish Harp and the start of the Highland Harps sections of the book.
- Copy letter in the hand of RBA requesting a confirmation that a Callotype picture sent with it are of an Irish harper called Byrne who died at Dundalk in 1863. Complains that the Queries he had sent to the Weekly Scotsman had not been inserted. Not addressed but is presumably to Gratten Flood and is the picture referred to in the next letter.
- Letter from Gratten Flood, dated 22 April 1905. Refers to callotype picture, confirms it is the same Byrne, more details on Byrne, requests loan of Armstrongs book so that he can accurately refer to it in Floods own work on the Harp.
- Letter from Gratton Flood, dated 8 May 1905. Confirms again that all the references to Byrne at that period are the same man, mentions bagpipes in connection to his forthcoming work on that subject.
- Letter from Grattan Flood, dated 23 may 1905, returning with thanks in the parcel post this afternoon. Presumably a borrowed book, mentions that Patrick Byrne had played before Queen Victoria in Dublin in August 1849.
- Letter from Grattan Flood, dated 29 May 1905. Was glad to hear that the returned Harp-book had reached RBA safely and that RBA was going to give him a copy for Floods own library. More on Byrne and a poetic inscription on a Dublin harp Society harp, copy of the inscription is given along with the news that Flood had visited Ardmore Cathedral and inspected the panel of the Judgement of Solomon and with harper.
- Letter from Gratton Flood written on Black edged mourning paper, dated 9 April 1906. Correspondence in arrears while dealing with his mother executors. Returns some of RBAs books, and hopes to send Dalzell & Dauney early next month. Gives answers to some of RBAs questions, they appear to have concerned the demise of Egans business, Sn A Cofferys Irish Harp Tutor, and the health of a George Caffery and Mr Longfield, (of the museum). Mentions that the Museum authorities have sent photos of all 8 of their bagpipes and ends with a request for a loan of Welsh Music by Edward Jones, 1784.
- Letter from GrattonFlood, dated 30 June 1906. Returns the copy of Dauney and will return the other books in due course. Mr Caffery is in working order again but Mr Longfield will never return to the museum. Eleven chapters of the bagpipe book finished, enquires after RBAs second volume, Dr Henebry has finished his model of the so called Brian Boru harp and a reference to a monument to Patrick Byrnes father which bears a small harp carved in stone.
- Note by RBA dated 21 June 1908 regarding a visit made to Glendalough on the 16 June.
- Between pages 148 to 149, Cutting from The Scotsman dated 21 May 1904 of a letter from John Johnson of Coll regarding Murdoch MacDonald the Coll harper and his son Eoin MacMhuirichidh Chlarsair. Claims that according to Coll tradition that the son had some tuition from his father and continued playing after his fathers death.
- Page 154, Hand written correction by RBA to text.
- Before page 155, Letter from Hugh Rose younger of Kilravock dated 10 February 1905, describing the details of carved stone with mermaid playing a harp located in the Castle garden along with sketches of the carving and also a cover letter giving the circumstances in which they were obtained and drawings and printed copies of similar mermaid carvings at Kilcoy Castle.
- Before page 155, Hand written note by RBA that there was a harper on a sculptured stone at Hill House, Dunfermline, the information communicated by a Thomas Ross Esq.
- After page 156, Actual photo and layout of the Lamont harp picture as printed as plate 1.
- After page 168 and plate I of the Queen Mary harp, the original photo and layout.
- After page 170 and plate II of the Queen Mary harp, the original photo and layout.
- After page 172 and plate III of the Queen Mary harp, the original photo and layout.
- Before page 175, a thin paper photograph of The Shrine of St Patricks Tooth.
- Attached to page 195, Title page of Three Airs with variations composed by and dedicated to Miss Curtis by P. A. Kreusser.
Entry for James Armstrong, (17801839), in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
General Record Ofice for Scotland, Census 1881 685/01051/00009; Census 1891 685/01003/00001; Census 1901 685/01021/00008.
National Archives of Scotland SC70/1/538 p 323
Stanton G. R, The Armstrong Collection of Musical Instruments. Museum Bulletin, National Museum of Science and Art. vol IV, Part ii, pp. 43-47, (1915).
General Record Office for Scotland, Statutory Deaths 685/020080
National Archives of Scotland SC70/ 4/447 pp 404417
Armstrong, Robert Bruce, The history of Liddesdale, with letters, notes, sketches and printed matter pasted in, 1883: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland manuscript collection: MS 575-576.
National Library of Scotland, MSS. 61106120
For Ann Young and her musical game see, Sanger. K, ‘A Letter from the Rev Patrick MacDonald to Mrs MacLean Clephane’ in Scottish Gaelic Studies, vol XXVI, (Summer 2010).
Stanton G. R. op cite.
Thomas Westrop was at the time the Hon. Keeper of Prints and Photographs for The Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.
Richard Langrishe was the Hon. Keeper of Printed Books for The Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.
Thomas Henry Longfield, (b 1906), Art and Industrial Assistant at the Science and Art Museum, Dublin.
William Dauney, Ancient Scottish Melodies, (Edin 1838) and Sir John Graham Dalyell, Musical Memoirs of Scotland, (Edin, 1849).
This is the instrument known as the Bell Harp which is now missing from the museum collection.
John Glen the Edinburgh Bagpipe maker and musical instrument specialist.
For an evaluation of this claim see, Sanger K, MacLean harpers, some loose ends, in West Highland Notes & Queries, Series 3, No 15, (October 2010).
The Kilravock stone has now been restored to a full lintal with matching mermaid and is now over a fireplace inside the castle.
Our thanks to the staff of the National Archives of Scotland, The National Library of Scotland, The Royal Irish Academy and the combined Library of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and National Museums of Scotland.
Keith Sanger. Midlothian. Scotland
Michael Billinge. Co Cork. Ireland
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