Féile Cruitirí Bhéal Feirste / Belfast Harp Festival

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Féile Cruitirí Bhéal Feirste / Belfast Harp Festival

Doors: 19:30 | Unreserved Seating
Age permitted: All ages. Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult
Tickets: £15.00


In association with Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich featuring Laoise Kelly, Aisling Lyons, Lauren O’Neill, Úna Monaghan, Daithí Gormley & Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn.

The Belfast Harp Festival, called by contemporary writers “The Belfast Harpers Assembly”, 11–14 July 1792, was a four-day event organised by merchant class Presbyterians Dr. James McDonnell, Robert Bradshaw and Henry Joy, (proprietor of the Belfast News-Letter and uncle to Henry Joy McCracken). It’s purpose was to revive an interest in harp music and to collect the music of the harpers and note their style of playing for future generations. What was hoped to be a revival, proved to be a farewell to the old tradition. Eleven harpers attended. Seven were blind. The eldest, Denis Hempson (1695 -1807) from Derry, was 97. He was the only one to use the ancient way of playing with the fingernails. By far the most important thing that happened at the festival was that a young man from Armagh named Edward Bunting (1773-1843), was employed to write down the music of the harpers, and to make notes on their instrumental techniques. He dedicated the rest of his life to collecting and preserving Irish music. He published three volumes of music, collectively known as the Ancient Music of Ireland.

Tonight we pay tribute to that event and the Bunting Collection.

Laoise Kelly is described as the most significant harper of her generation and has pioneered a new style of driving instrumental harping which can be heard on over 70 albums including The Chieftains, Seamus Heaney, Christy Moore and Sharon Shannon.

Aisling Lyons is a multi-award-winning musician and composer from county Clare. She is the holder of 8 All-Ireland titles, has performed internationally and collaborated with distinguished artists and musicians in various projects.

Lauren O’Neill Having performed and taught across Ireland and internationally, Lauren O’Neill is a highly sought-after traditional harper who has performed and taught across Ireland and Internationally.

Úna Monaghan is a harper, composer, researcher and sound artist from Belfast. Her work combines experimental, traditional Irish and improvised music and live electronics.

Daithí Gormley is regarded as one of the most accomplished Button Accordion players of his generation, he holds an extensive musical repertoire steeped in the rich musical heritage of his native county Sligo.

Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn from Monaghan has an extensive portfolio of albums, TV, film & theatre as well as performing at festivals and concerts worldwide. He has worked with various artists as diverse as Hazel O Connor, Vards, Danish rock singers and Gaelic singers.