What is your name / where are you from?
My name is Tomás MacUileagóid and I am a part-time harpmaker based in Rathfarnham, in Dublin.
How did you start making harps?
My journey started when I was looking for a better fiddle than the one I had, so I thought about making one! I learned basic violin making from some amateur luthiers, and then got some expert tuition from Bill Patterson and Hugo Vegter in Cork. On my journey, I met and became friends with the late Colm Ó Meachair. When my own children expressed an interest in playing the harps, Colm kindly offered to teach me how he did it. To be honest this was a treasure trove of experience and expertise which I am hugely grateful for. As we were both musicians, it informed our approach to seeking out optimum sound qualities from our harps. I have evolved my design over the last 17 years, and make a model with slightly higher tension than most Irish harps. My logo is a celtic swan, hence the name Eala Harps, which is usually inlaid in native bog oak, which can be up to 5000 years old.
What does the harp mean to you?
To me, the harp represents the soul of Ireland. The sound is so elemental, that it reaches back to different ages, but also forward in its capacity to embrace collaborations of sound not yet heard.
What do you like most about Lá na Cruite | Harp Day?
It brings our harp into the spotlight and gives the general public a chance to experience the unique sound of the harp. Most people never get to physically feel the vibration of the harp in their own bodies and it is a delight to see people having this experience.