harping on

Calling all harpers: The Arts Council wants you

A major survey is being carried out to “help shape the future of the harp in Ireland”.

THE ARTS COUNCIL is conducting a major national survey on harping in Ireland.

Toner Quinn, founder of the Journal of Music, has been commissioned to carry out the research.

Quinn said that the survey will help the Arts Council decide how it should invest in harping in the future.

“The harp has not been given the attention it deserves. It’s one of the bedrocks of Irish music. Everything in traditional music is influenced by the harp.”

He added that the harp also has “huge symbolic value” for Ireland, noting its presence on everything from “our coins to the uniforms of army soldiers”.

Quinn said there has been a resurgence in harping in recent years, stating: “Since 2000, there’s definitely more people playing the harp.”

He noted the diversity of the instrument, saying it is used in various music styles – from traditional and jazz to contemporary and beyond.

People often only hear it at weddings where a certain type of repertoire is played, but there’s a whole other side to it.

The Arts Council has said that it is keen to to examine the current “vibrant” state of harping and “identify gaps in provision and explore opportunities for cooperation and development to secure the future of the instrument”.


Paul Flynn, Head of Traditional Arts at the Council, said the survey represents “an important opportunity to document the full breadth and scope of harp playing throughout the island of Ireland”.

We are fortunate to have such a rich harping history and so many excellent contemporary practitioners. The Arts Council wants to engage as many harpers as possible in this research to guide our work into the future.

harp survey 2 Sample question from the survey. Arts Council Arts Council

Quinn, who is a lecturer at NUI Galway and a fiddle player, previously worked with the Council to compile the report Towards a Policy for the Traditional Arts.

The deadline for completing the harping survey is Tuesday, 8 July. The final report is due to be completed by the end of August.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to help shape the future of the harp in Ireland,” Quinn added.

Read: Artists receive over €3 million in bursaries over the past three years

Read: ‘We need to get away from Celtic Tiger thinking’ – Arts Council

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