The Malahide 2 harp

Malahide 2 harp

Dated to the 18th Century

Current whereabouts uncertain; Privately owned but on display in Malahide Castle, Ireland, in 1984.

"High Headed" design;
35 strings, longest 110cm

This harp was first drawn to public attention by Nicholas Carolan's in 1984. This harp's soundbox is pieced from planks rather than carved from a solid block in the usual fashion. The soundboard is painted with shamrocks.

Nicholas Carolan tells us that it was then owned by William Kearney, who acquired it at an auction in Belfast in 1967. According to Mike Billinge (wirestrungharp.com, retrieved Jan 2011), the harp was again auctioned in 2000 after the death of Kearney. On the other hand, The Irish Times, 20th November 1999, reports on the forthcoming sale of Kearney’s collection, to be held on 24th November 1999, and mentions “two harps, lots 199 and 201 respectively, which, although from different centuries - 18th and 19th - have the same estimate of £2,000-£3,000 each.”. To add to the mix, a 1999 Adams auction catalogue lists “Lot 92, an early 19th century harp,the body painted green and decorated with hand painted shamrocks and gilt griffins. The WIlliam Kearney Collection” - is this our harp? The Irish Times, 27th November 1999 report on the sale only mentions the 18th century harp so perhaps this harp failed to sell, and was re-entered in a second auction early the following year? I need to dig more.


Simon Chadwick