Oidhreacht Dhonncha Uí Ámhsaigh: The Legacy of Denis O’Hempsey

The Downhill @ Guinness. Photo by Sue, August, 2009.

Well here is a rare opportunity to see several of the world’s best harpers perform.  As you’ll see in my previous post, TG4, the Irish Language TV station, created a documentary on the legacy of the mysterious blind harper, Denis O’Hempsey, who was an old man back in 1792 when Edward Bunting noted down the music he and several other harpers played at that last great gathering of early Irish harpers.

HERE IS THE LINK TO TG4’s LISTINGS

Take a look at each of the three parts of the film.  The coverage is a little bit choppy, and cuts  back and forth between the performer on stage and the small talk of the participants behind the scenes, preparing for their turn to perform.

Who will you see?  Ann Heymann plays Feachain Gleis on a Downhill replica, which I understand from Michael Billinge was made by Jay Witcher.   Her gorgeous Kortier Trinity is also on the stage, but unfortunately, whatever she played on the Trinity was not included in the film.  Alison Kinnaird plays her handsome Lamont replica, made, I believe, by Bob Evans.  Paul Dooley and Laoise Kelly both play clarsachs made by Dooley, as far as my eye can tell.  Two Breton harpers, Alan Stivell and Myrdhin, play more modern instruments, but are a pleasure to watch.  I was thrilled to see Alison Kinnaird play for the first time.  That was rather exciting.  The Downhill replica played by Nollaig Brolly was made by Seamus O’Kane, and is a handsome thing.  Take a look at this article from the Derry Journal to learn a bit more about the project.

It’s  fun to look at everybody’s styles up close, and appreciated having a close-up look at their manicures.  I was amused to see one of the harpers working on his nails before the concert.  We can all identify with him.

Special thanks to Karen Loomis, who mentioned the broadcast in the first place, and to Michael Billinge for further information about the film he was central to creating.  With good wishes for the end of the year,

–Sue

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4 Responses

  1. Dear Sue,
    Thank you so much for posting the link to this wonderful three part video production.

    An excellent and delightful way to spend an hour.

    Best wishes for the New Year,

    Duncan Saunders

  2. Thanks, Duncan!

    I’d known of the documentary for some months, but it’s really Karen Loomis who deserves the thanks for alerting people on another listserve to the TG4 airing of the show. In any case, it was an eyeful, wasn’t it?

    Are you a clarsach player yourself?

    With new year good wishes,
    –Sue

  3. Do you not have Alison’s “Silver String”? The enclosed DVD has some clips of her playing (also a cameo appearance of Ann and Charlie).
    http://www.earlygaelicharp.info/emporium/CDs/alison.htm

    • Thanks to you, I do have it. The embarrassing truth is that I lent it to a friend who returned it having misplaced the DVD, so I’ve only got the CD. So yes, it really was the first time I’d gotten to see Alison Kinnaird play. What a treat. –Sue

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