Harps Alive | An Chruit Bheo | Harps Leevin 2023

Harps Alive Festival 2023

An all-island celebration of Irish harping 

Some 231 years on, harp music resounds…..Harpers and historians join forces in Belfast and Dublin to celebrate the Irish harping tradition.

Now in its second year Harps Alive (Harps Alive│An Chruit Bheo│Harps Leevin) is a cross border collaborative festival, which brings together the finest harpers from across the island to celebrate the significance of the landmark event of the Belfast Harp Festival 1792.  An event, that through the work of Armagh-born Edward Bunting, resulted in the collection of the music and techniques of the Irish harping tradition; a collection which is central to the continuity of the Irish harping tradition today.

Cruit Éireann | Harp Ireland, working in partnership with Reclaim the Enlightenment, present the Harps Alive | An Chruit Bheo | Harps Leevin festival in Belfast, on September 30th and in Dublin on October 21st – 22nd, 2023.

The festival will bring together harpers from all over Ireland to assess Edward Bunting’s legacy, showcase the harpers’ music, and bring a contemporary spotlight to bear on current developments to safeguard harping as a living tradition in Ireland.

A dynamic series of cross-community and cross-border events featuring two major concerts, a series of recitals, talks and workshops remembering the contribution of Edward Bunting 180 years after his death, is planned in the two cities.

Festival Events – Dublin

All event tickets available at www.eventbrite.ie

Harping Fun with Aisling Ennis
Saturday 21st October, 1-2pm | Free adm.

Harper Aisling Ennis delves into the magic of Irish legends and the Wicklow fairy tradition, and invites children to come along to be spellbound by enchanting harp sounds and intriguing stories. This is an hour out for all the family. You might even have a chance to try out a harp for yourself!


Film Screening: Beart Bunting
Saturday 21st October, 12.30-1.30pm | Free adm.

Beart Bunting, directed by Deaglán Ó Mochain. Six of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians join with Strabane Brass Band to explore and perform a neglected part of the Edward Bunting collection – a manuscript of mainly military music such as regimental marches, retreats and quick-steps collected alongside traditional Irish airs and tunes – reflecting the turbulent political reality of Ireland before and after the 1798 rebellion.


Edward Bunting: Illuminating his Legacy
Saturday 21st October, 2.30-3.30pm | Free adm.

Belfast historian Mark Doherty speaks about the life and work of Edward Bunting. Mark reveals Bunting’s connections to Belfast and Dublin, and how he spent his life preserving the music of the harpers.


Try Your Hand at the Early Irish Harp | The Royal Irish Academy of Music
Sunday 22nd October, 10am | Free adm.

Level: No harp experience required

Would you like to learn more about, and even get your hands on a copy of an ancient Irish harp – and be taught a tune? Meet the Historical Harp Society of Ireland, hear this rare instrument played, have your questions answered, and – if you sign up early enough – take one of the few places in a hands-on beginners’ workshop. Listen to early Irish harp music with Siobhán Armstrong, find out more about its fascinating history at a 45-minute illustrated talk with Simon Chadwick, and join a 75-minute, hands-on workshop for beginners. Harps copied from medieval to 18th-century originals will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.


Remembering Edward Bunting | Mount Jerome Cemetery
Sunday 22nd October, 11am – 12pm | Free adm.

Join us at Edward Bunting’s newly restored grave in Mount Jerome, where Aosdána poet Moya Cannon performs a newly commissioned poem celebrating the legacy of Edward Bunting and is joined by harper Aisling Lyons to recreate the ancient tradition of reacaire (reciter) and harper.


A Masterclass with Richard Allen | The Royal Irish Academy of Music
Sunday 22nd October, 11am | Free adm.

Level: Intermediate

Join one of Ireland’s leading exponents of pedal harp practice, Richard Allen, as he guides you through repertoire for pedal harp. Why not perform a solo piece, and spend time with Richard working through the music? Or sit back and have a listen? Everyone welcome!

Irish Harp Workshop with Aisling Lyons | The Royal Irish Academy of Music
Sunday 22nd October, 1.30-3.30pm | Free adm.

Level: Intermediate

Dynamic harper Aisling Lyons invites you to a workshop at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. No matter what your standard, come along and take part. There will be something in it for everybody. Hear and learn the best of harpers’ music from one of our most renowned harpers.


Harps Together: CÉHI Gala Concert | Pepper Canister Church
Sunday 22nd October, 6.30pm

Tickets €15 at www.eventbrite.ie

Join us at Harps Alive | An Chruit Bheo | Harps Leevin for the final gala concert of the festival, featuring an array of harpers and the Dublin premiere of the Harps Alive Ensemble. Siobhán Armstrong showcases the music of the early Irish harp, harpist Maria McNamee performs music for pedal harp and Aosdána poet Moya Cannon recites a newly commissioned poem in memory of Edward Bunting with harper Aisling Lyons recreating the ancient tradition of harper and reacaire (reciter). Enjoy the enchanting sounds of renowned harper Triona Marshall with well-known accordionist and composer, Martin Tourish.

All event tickets available at www.eventbrite.ie