What is your name / where are you from?
Gráinne Hambly, from Mayo Abbey in County Mayo.
How did you start playing the harp?
Well, it was actually all because of my sister Róisín! When she was 7, she saw a harp in a shop window at the Willie Clancy week in Miltown Malbay and started to pester my parents to learn to play. By chance my father came across a brochure that same week for a summer school taking place in Glencolmcille, County Donegal a few weeks later, run by Janet Harbison, where you could rent a harp for the week to try it out. So my parents booked us all in. I was nearly 15 at the time, and not enthusiastic about this idea at all. I think I complained the whole way to Donegal! We arrived late and walked into a room filled with harps all playing together – I was completely blown away by the sound, and within the first 5 minutes I was hooked. We bought a harp at the end of the week and that was it!
What does the harp mean to you?
Everything! Apart from being our national emblem, the harp has been my passport to travel the world, making life-long friends along the way. I love the sound, the way it can capture and express such varied emotions, the history and diverse repertoire… And I love sharing that music with people all over the world through workshops and concerts. There is such a fantastic harp community throughout Ireland and around the world – there is just something about the harp that really brings people together and I have been especially grateful for that sense of community over the past 18 months.
What do you like most about Lá na Cruite | Harp Day?
Lá na Cruite | Harp Day is a fantastic way to introduce the harp to a wider audience, whether in our own local areas here in Ireland or around the world. I especially like the idea of the Harpers’ Call, where people from all over the world and at all stages of their harp journey have the opportunity to share their music with one another, in a welcoming and supportive environment.