The Harp Music of Ireland

Harp music is known to have existed in Ireland from as early as the year 1000 AD. The harp, the simple wire-strung type we see on the Irish National Emblem, was an integral part of Irish society in Medieval times. 

From 1100-1600, different groups of invaders brought with them many different types of harps. Naturally, harp music evolved and increased in popularity.

Today, the harp is a symbol of Irish culture, politics, and music.


The Harp Music of Ireland


Turlough O'Carolan, Ireland's National Composer

Ireland's unofficial national composer is the little-known (to us) Turlough O'Carolan. Ask a resident of Ireland, however, and they will tell you of O'Carolan's popularity and the many tunes (over 220) that have survived to this day.

Born in 1670 and dying in 1738, Turlough O'Carolan is from the Baroque Era of music. (He was born 15 years before J.S. Bach if you need a reference point.)

O'Carolan was an itinerant harper - traveling all over Ireland playing his music and singing his songs. Blind from Smallpox at the age of 18, he was apprenticed at the age of 21 and set out on a horse with his harp to compose music for his patrons.

His great gift to the world of music was his gift for melody  (melody is that part of the music that you can hum or sing naturally). O'Carolan's melodies were infectious and struck a chord in the spirit of the Irish people.

O'Carolan's harp music is soothing, predictable, and evokes images of the Irish countryside. It is perfect music for us to study with children!

Watch the following video with your children - it's short and sweet and is a beautiful way to introduce O'Carolan's music to them.

Use it during your Morning Time or TeaTime. Ask the kids to draw while they are listening. Do they recognize any patterns in the music? Why does the music sound like Ireland? Can they write down adjectives to describe the music?


Access the private SQUILT YouTube Turlough O'Carolan playlist


Learn More About the Music of Turlough O'Carolan in the SQUILT LIVE! Archives:

We traveled to Europe in a Celebration of World Music - specifically Ireland and Germany.

While in Ireland we learned about Turlough O'Carolan. We tookthe piece from the video above and dissected its form using manipulatives that allowed children to interact with a SQUILT created video.

When we visited Germany we learned about J.S. Bach and one of his most famous pieces for solo violin. 

The world is such a big, beautiful place. Music helps us learn about people, culture, traditions, and BEAUTY.

I hope you enjoy sharing a little bit of Irish harp music with your children and would love for you to join us in SQUILT LIVE! as we learn about beautiful music each month!



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