Usually dated to the late 17th Century
Also known as Carolan's harp
Owned by the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, in storage (not on display).
"High Headed" design;
originally 35 strings; later reduced to 33 after damage and repairs. longest string reported as 104cm
There is a b/w photo of this harp in Early Music, vol.36, no.4, Nov 2008 p.525
Since the 19th Century this harp has been claimed to be that of the famous harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670 - 1738). Ann Heymann has argued that this instrument was in fact played by Rose Mooney (1740 - c.1798). It is badly damaged and crudely repaired at the base.
Dr James McDonnell wrote the following description of Rose Mooney's harp in a letter sent to Edward Bunting:
Rose Mooney's had thirteen strings below and eighteen above the ‘sisters’. A piece of timber of triangular shape (the angle truncated) was placed within the belly of the harp, through which the strings passed, being fixed by transverse pegs of wood, like quills of the Welsh harp differed in this respect, and there was of consequence a greater facility in replacing a string. The belly of Mooney's harp was split and cracked upon one side where it was covered with canvas, or pasteboard beneath yet it was light, sonorous, and much superior to Quin's harp. Its body was composed of three pieces of timber. There were four strips of copper placed transversely, and one strip longitudinally, to strengthen the timber. The transverse strips were closer as you ascended to the treble, where the tension of the strings or purchase is greatest. The obliquity of the short strings is greatest, and the management of this is a principal difficulty in the mechanical construction of the instrument. „
Since 2006, the letter above has been read every year to students of Scoil na gCláirseach - Summer School of Early Irish harp while inspecting the instrument, and every point noted by MacDonnell has a clear parallel on the instrument, reinforcing the identification of this harp as being Rose Mooney's.
The harp has suffered terrible damage to both ends of the soudbox, where the pillar and neck are joined. The treble end of the neck is badly cracked and splintered where the top 5 or 6 pins go through it. The forepillar is currently positioned much too low on the soundbox. This makes it very hard to understand how the harp was set up when Rose Mooney played it, and even harder to appreciate its original form.
There are three metal straps around the neck in the treble, and one in the bass (at the neck-pillar junction). There is a substantial metal strap running longwise over the 'hump' of the harp and joining the box and neck; there are also two slender straps in the bass, running parallel to the cheek bands, and bridging the neck-pillar joint. At the bass end of the soundbox, the original 'lobed' design (like the Downhill) has been obscured by cloth bandages; the smashed wood is suppoorted by two iron straps which run diagonally across the soundboard and attach to the pillar base.
James MacDonnell's description above suggests that Mooney had 33 strings on the harp, with a tuning from GG in the bass (2 1/2 octaves below middle c) up to d''' (2 octaves and a note above middle c), with no string for the lowest F, and two strings for g below middle c. Assuming that she used the harp while it was in its current fractured and repaired state, she probably neglected the top two pins and the top 2 shoes.
The lowest two positions on the neck are blocked in by an unknown substance, possibly wooden dowels, or possibly broken pin shafts; the harp would have borne 35 strings originally. 35 pins are visible in old photos, but only 34 are present on the harp now; the 4th from the treble apparently having been removed. This totals 37 positions on the neck; however it is possible that one or two may have been added in the treble during the repairs, allowing the original complement to have been only 35. Many of the pins are bent, presumably from the impacts which caused the damage to the wood.
There are currently 25 strings fitted, which are probably 19th century replacements for display purposes; there are also 4 fragments of possibly older wire on the pin ends in the high treble.