Sources for Gaelic harp music

the Bunting manuscripts: letters etc.

James MacDonell
James MacDonell


MS35 is a box of letters written to Edward Bunting by various correspondents, including Dr. James MacDonnell, who was closely involved with the project from the start and was an organiser of the 1792 meeting. James MacDonell supplied Bunting with some of the information used in the published books, as well as other information collected from the old harpers. There are also letters here from other people as well, including Skarratt who engraved the plates for the 1840 printed book, and other people sending information or asking questions. There are a few letters from Patrick Lynch, where he discusses his tour collecting songs for Bunting. A number of these letters were partially transcribed by Charlotte Milligan Fox for her 1911 book Annals of the Irish harpers

MS46 & MS14

Arthur O'Neill
Arthur O’Neill

MS46 is The Memoirs of Arthur O’Neill, which he dictated to Tom Hughes, a secretary. MS14 is a second revised version of The Memoirs with many additions and alterations dictated by O’Neill.
The Memoirs has been edited and printed twice; by Charlotte Milligan Fox in Annals, 1911, and then again by Donal O’Sullivan in Carolan, 1958.
O’Sullivan was very critical of Fox’s edition, and many scholars, including me here, have followed O’Sullivan’s criticism and have slated Fox for poor work. However, in their 2013 new edition of Fox’s Annals Sara Lanier and Roland Spottiswoode devote an appendix to the different sources and methods used by the two editors, and claim that Fox’s work was much better, and O’Sullivan’s worse, than is usually assumed.
O’Sullivan’s edition can be read online. I have reprinted the Memoirs from the 1911 edition.

ms12, and ms37

ms12 and ms37 both contain sections related to the Irish harp terms that were printed in the 1840 book.

Other manuscripts and items in the collection

There are various other things in the Bunting Manuscripts collection at Queens. MS19 is a tune book that was compiled by Mary McCracken. MS33(6) has piano arrangements of two Irish tunes writen by Bunting alongside continental piano music. MS36 is loose sheets with English song words written by various contributors. MS37 is a collection of ephemera, pamphlets, photographs, contents lists of the printed books, etc. MS39 is a portrait of Bunting.

There are also printed books and journals in the collection that belonged to Bunting. They are listed with MS numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 22, 23, 31, 38, 40

Simon Chadwick