Ireland's Harp Jacket Image
List Price:
Discount Price:

Read Mary Louise O�Donnell on the history of Ireland�s harp
in The Irish Post, 4 August 2015

Listen to a talk by Mary Louise O�Donnell on
Ireland�s harp in the Central Library, 12 March 2015

An RT� interactive report on the harp as Ireland�s national emblem
with Mary Louise O'Donnell, March 2015

Listen to Mary Louise O'Donnell both play and discuss the harp
on The History Show, RTE Radio One, March 2015 (16 mins in)

Read Frank McNally's take on Ireland's Harp
in his Irishman's Diary in the Irish Times, March 2015

Mary Louise O'Donnell discusses Ireland's Harp
on Moncrieff, Newstalk, January 2015

Read Mary Louise O'Donnell on Ireland's harp
in the Irish Times, December 2014

Ireland's Harp
The Shaping of Irish Identity c.1770 to 1880

Mary Louise O'Donnell (author)
Paperback / softback,
Publication date:
15th December 2014

Author Biography

MARY LOUISE O'DONNELL holds a doctorate from the University of Limerick and is a former Irish Research Council postgraduate scholar and postdoctoral fellow. Her research on the history and performance practice of the Irish harp has been published in Utopian Studies, Eire-Ireland, and The American Harp Journal, and she has also published widely on topics relating to Irish cultural history, semiotics, and performance studies. She is a renowned harpist and has given lecture/recitals throughout Europe, North America, and Australia.


The image of the harp - symbolic of the political and cultural landscape of Ireland for centuries - evokes strong sentiments in the collective Irish imagination. This iconic instrument became the emblem on Irish coinage in the sixteenth century. Since then it has been symbolic of Irish culture, music, and politics - finally evolving into a significant marker of national identity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The most important period in this evolution was between 1770 and 1880. In these years, the instrument became central to many utopian visions of an autonomous Irish nation and the harp's metaphoric significance eclipsed its musical one. Mary Louise O'Donnell uses these fascinating years of major social, political, and cultural change as the focus of her study on the Irish harp. From the revolutionary symbolism of the harp to the cultural curiosities that were the blind Irish harpers, the many permutations of Ireland's harp are thoroughly examined. O'Donnell also discusses how the protection and patronage of the Irish harpers passed from the aristocratic Gaelic order to the Ascendancy and affluent middle classes in Dublin and Belfast.Ireland's Harp brings to light the monumental importance of this instrument by highlighting the central place the harp occupied in the formation and expression of Ireland's cultural and national identity.