What is your name / where are you from?
Aibhlín McCrann. I am from Dublin.
How did you start playing the harp?
The year was 1963. My father frequented a pub in Westland Row in Dublin called Kennedy’s pub. It happened to be across the street from the Royal Irish Academy of Music where Daniel Quinn, the only harp maker in Ireland at the time, had his workshop in the basement. They often met to share a yarn. One night my father arrived home late and rather sheepishly announced that one drink had followed another, and one word became many. Suffice it to say that bought a harp for me for the princely sum of £80. £80 in 1963 was a small fortune which we didn’t have. My mother glared at him and fixed me with a beady eye. ‘You learn that, or else….’, she howled. My fate had been irrevocably sealed.
What does the harp mean to you?
It’s part of my identity and sense of myself. It has gifted me an understanding of my Irishness. It lives with me, before me, behind me, in me, on my right and on my left. It has accompanied my on my journey through life at times of adversity, at times of joy and at times of sadness – always nearby. Lifelong harp friendships are an enduring joy. I especially like being a link in that bigger story; connected to a long line of harpers marching to the beat of their harps through the centuries, keeping the tradition alive.
What do you like most about Lá na Cruite | Harp Day?
Lá na Cruite Harp Day has activated a sense of pride and community in harpers; it’s inclusive and welcoming. It shows us that harping is alive and thriving here in Ireland and all over the world. It has put us on the map, and along with our UNESCO recognition, has given us an even stronger voice to advocate for harping’s positioning in Ireland. I love the variety of styles and the sheer joy that harpers experience when they are playing together. I’m really excited by this year’s event because we explore new relationships and make new collaborations. The result is breath-taking and dynamic.