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The politics of the Irish harp symbol from Henry VIII to Brexit by Dr Mary Louise O'Donnell

Uploaded 29/03/2020

In May 2019, Cruit Éireann, Harp Ireland organised a special inaugural lecture entitled 'The politics of the Irish Harp symbol from Henry VIII to Brexit' presented by Dr. Mary Louise O’Donnell. The image of the harp, symbolic of the political and cultural landscape of Ireland for centuries, evokes strong sentiments in the collective Irish imagination. Some form of harp has been played in Ireland for over a thousand years, but the iconic instrument only became the emblem on Irish coinage in the sixteenth century. Since then it has been symbolic of Irish culture, music, and politics and, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it became a significant marker of Irish identity. The Irish harp was adopted as the official emblem of the Irish Free State in 1922 and it has remained an image of continuity and stability in Irish politics and society for almost a century. This lecture explored the shifting interpretations and representations of the Irish harp symbol, in particular, over the last two centuries.

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