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.


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,


Lamont Replica & Student Trinity Harp On the Market


One of the last days of the season to play music on the porch.


Today we visited Sauvie’s Island early in the morning and harvested some pumpkins from a farmer’s field.  The days have grown sunny and chill, and tonight there is a risk of a first frost.  It’s almost too chilly to play harp on the porch anymore.

Now here is a rare event: David Kortier, a craftsman known for his elegant instruments and his specialization in historically-accurate Gaelic harps, is listing TWO instruments for resale.

He has a student Trinity made of willow and cherry for $1500 US dollars, and a replica Lamont with a walnut box and maple neck and pillar, and a handsome end cap (and strung with lots of gold) for $7000 US dollars. These instruments are made by special order, usually involving a long wait.

If you’re in the market for an affordable historical clarsach, are curious about the Lamont, or like me, love to see these handsome creatures, go take a look. There are plenty of photos.


%d bloggers like this: