Early Irish wire strung harps



Harps in stock

Purchasing Information

The clarsach, or small harp, strung with metal strings has been the national symbol of Ireland for centuries. These harps have been objects of great significance, and the harpers were often granted special status. The playing of these instruments declined in the 19th century, but has enjoyed a revival in recent years.

The technique of playing these harps was usually with the fingernails. In this way a beautiful sound is produced, one of profound beauty, bell-like and lyric, with a haunting sustain. The soundbox was typically hollowed from a single block of wood, usually willow, and the other parts were often elaborately carved and decorated. There are fewer than 20 early Irish harps surviving, that we know of, mostly residing in museums, many in Ireland. Of these harps, only a handful are regularly copied or used as models for building new instruments. I have examined many of these harps, taken measurements and photos, and offer replicas that are as accurate as I can possibly make them.

The reason for wanting a replica of a museum harp is primarily related to historically informed performance practice. (This is another way of saying that this instrument, as it was built then, is the most appropriate instrument for playing the music of that time, often revealing aspects that would not be apparent when played on a modern instrument with modern techniques.) Or, you could simply decide that these harps are beautiful and significant instruments which could enhance your life tremendously.

At this point, I am producing the following models. The names are those commonly associated with each model, usually assigned by the most prominent owner, or where the harp was located for the majority of its life. For a discussion of each original, look at Simon Chadwick's informative webpage: http://www.earlygaelicharp.info/harps/

Replicas of historical harps are undertaken by arrangement. Delivery time is 6 months to a year or more from date of order. Because of this investment of time, I ask for a 20% deposit, nonrefundable, with the order, and the balance is due upon completion.

Queen Mary Harp $15,000

Trinity College Harp $15,000

Lamont Harp $16,000

Downhill Harp $18,500

Castle Otway Harp $17,500

Mullagh Mast Harp $17,500

Sirr Harp $18,500

Kildare Harp $18,500

O'ffogarty Harp $20,000

Bunworth Harp $22,500

Cloyne (Dalway) reconstruction $35,500


Scale Drawings of Early Irish harps

In response to requests for measurements of the early Irish harps that I have studied, I have printed up full sized sheets in 1:1 scale. These are not plans for building a harp, nor are they detailed museum quality drawings. Instead, I have simply traced the outlines of my shop templates. They are printed actual size, with an inch scale to verify the accuracy. Since I have taken great care with my templates to faithfully reproduce the significant dimensions of the original harps, including string lengths and spacings, all information needed to produce an accurate replica can be taken directly from these tracings. In some instances elements have been simplified, and none of the decorative features are shown. Additionally, the joinery is not shown, as these details generally cannot be seen in the museum originals. In other words, you must be an experienced and resourceful woodworker to build a harp using these drawings. But as a resource to verify size, shape, and functioning of these harps, the information on these sheets is very useful, and can be relied upon.


Each harp is drawn on a single sheet of heavy paper and delivered folded in a large envelope. The price is $65 each, postpaid.

The models currently available are:

The Queen Mary Harp, Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

The Trinity College Harp, Trinity College Library, Dublin (the so-called Brian Boro harp)

The Downhill Harp, Guinness Brewery Company, Dublin

The Castle Otway Harp, Trinity College Library, Dublin

The Lamont Harp, Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh


Photo story- Replicating the Bunworth harp

Photo story- Building the Student Trinity harps

Photo story- Trinity College replicas for Ann Heymann and Siobhan Armstrong

Report- Scotland, June 2000

Report- Ireland, January 2002

Z toggles- an alternative string anchor








O'ffogarty replica

Queen Mary replica

Downhill replica

Bunworth replica