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'An emotional day': Irish harping added to UNESCO's 'Intangible Cultural Heritage' list

The UNESCO announcement was made at a committee meeting in Colombia yesterday.

IRISH HARPING HAS been recognised by UNESCO as an important symbol of Ireland’s living heritage.

The musical instrument has been added to the organisation’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

In a statement, UNESCO said: “Irish harping is at the heart of the identity of the people of the island of Ireland.

“The harp is Ireland’s national symbol and has been played for more than 1,000 years; its bell-like sounds and music captivate all those who hear it and are celebrated in Irish mythology, folklore and literature.”

Ireland’s first nomination, Uilleann Piping was officially inscribed by UNESCO in 2017 with Hurling officially inscribed last year. 

Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, said the announcement recognises the “central place” harping holds in Ireland’s cultural heritage. 

“The Harp is Ireland’s national symbol and has been played in Ireland for more than one thousand years,” she said. 

“This recognition by UNESCO is a true tribute to the generation of harpers, who have ensured the transmission of Irish harp music for this and future generations.”

Speaking this morning, Aibhlín McCrann, Chair of Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland described today as “emotional and historic”. 

The UNESCO announcement was made at a committee meeting in Colombia yesterday. 

The UNESCO Representative List is aimed at promoting visibility, awareness, protection of cultural heritage internationally.

Said Madigan: “The inscription of Irish Harping is a wonderful opportunity to share a cherished and central aspect of Irish cultural heritage with the international community.”

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