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For musicians and instrument makers trying to understand the Gaelic harp, the surviving historical instruments are the most important source of information.

The extant instrument can be compared with contemporary depictions and drawings. Although the old depictions can show us details of use and technique, it is only the surviving extant instruments that can provide solid reliable evidence of the design and construction techniques, and the setup and ergonomic details of the old tradition.

A surprising number of instruments survive from the time when the Gaelic harp was made and played in a living tradition. I have so far traced eighteen, of which all but two are preserved almost entirely complete. Click on a harp's name to see a picture and find out more about each one, or use the complete illustrated list.

Few if any of these instruments have received close academic study; there is therefore very little currently known about details of their construction, stringing or tuning, or in many cases even where and when they were made.

If you know of any historical Gaelic harps not mentioned here please let me know!

I am also listing continental instruments, as a comparison, and have started a page on Tuning keys.

Simon Chadwick

c.1400-1700
 Trinity College
 Queen Mary
 Lamont
 Ballinderry
 Cloyne 1621
 Otway
 O'Fogarty
c.1650-1800
 Kildare
 Sirr
 Mullaghmast
 Rose Mooney
 O'Neill
 Downhill 1702
 Bunworth 1734
 Hollybrook
 Malahide 1
 Malahide 2
 Clonalis
c. 1800-1850
 Other harps