CD A0103: Harp to Heart

Harp to Heart
Kathleen Loughnane

CD Cover: Affairs of the Harp“Kathleen’s playing is wonderfully fluid and full of ‘elegant musicality’ - a phrase I once heard an old man use to describe a musician’s performance” Irish Music Mag December 2005 “The arrangements are kept nicely varied, with Loughnane’s deft precise arrangements always to the fore, as is only right.” Hot Press October 2005

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Other recordings and Sheet Music by Kathleen Loughnane

Track Listing & Audio Samples

1 The Two William Davises
2 Maurice O’Connor
3 Battle of Aughhrim
4 Madam Maxwell
Courtenay’s Favourite
5 Taimse in chodladh
6 Henry MacDermott Roe
7 Carolan’s Concerto
8 Corelli (1653-1713)
9 Carolan’s Farewell to Music
10 The Foggy Dew
11 Tiarna Mhuigheo
12 Planxty Finn 1.26
13 Mr O’Connor and Jig 3.53
14 Molly MacAlpin 2.11
15 Poll Ha’penny
Willie Clancy’s Poll Ha'penny
Total time

Notes & Credits

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Kathleen Loughnane Harp
Alec Finn - bouzouki, guitar, tenor guitar
Cormac Cannon - uilleann pipes / whistles
Martin Hughes - flute

Programme Notes

Kathleen has written and recorded several new compositions for the Irish Harp. In 1999 she was commissioned by the National University of Ireland to write an anthem celebrating it’s 150th anniversary. She released her first solo CD Affairs of the Harp in 1999, along with a book of harp arrangements of the same name. A second recording Harping On appeared in 2002, accompanied once again by a book of harp arrangements.

Harp to Heart

In 1792, Edward Bunting, then a young assistant organist at St. Anne’s Church, Belfast, noted down the music of the harpers attending the Belfast Harp Festival. These musicians represented a distinctive Irish harping tradition dating back at least to the 12th century. When, this tradition of harping died out in the early decades of the 19th century, Bunting’s collection remained as an invaluable record.

Continuity within the instrumental tradition as a whole would have resulted in the sharing of tunes and similarities in the manner of their interpretation. With the demise of the harping tradition, some of the tunes lived on in the repertoire of the uilleann pipes and fiddle, to be ‘minded’, to be developed and re-shaped. But many lovely harping tunes remained on the page, the details of their nuancing and interpretation fading from memory.

On this CD I have included harping tunes both from Bunting’s collection and from the aural tradition. In the former case, I have tried to imagine how they might have been played had the tradition remained unbroken.

There are various versions of this tune carried in the aural tradition both here and in Scotland. As an O’Carolan rune this is known as Planxty Davis, but it would seem that it was composed by his predecessor, harper-composer Thomas Connellan, from County Sligo. In Scotland, where Connellan spent some years, it is known as The Battle of Killecrankie.

Maurice O’Connor was the head of the O’Connor family of Offaly. His father was killed at the battle of Aughrim in 1691. His lands were confiscated and Maurice had little choice but to leave for England around 1700. He converted to Protestantism to permit him to practice law, and proceeded to make his fortune at the English Bar. Returning to Ireland about 1725, he married Lady Mary Plunkett. Maurice eventually managed to gain possession of part of his ancient inheritance in Offaly. This tune of Turlough O'Carolan’s (1670-1738) celebrates his return.

A version from the aural tradition. I first heard this tune on a Chieftains recording and more recently from Joe Burke on the accordion. Seven thousand Irishmen were slain at the battle of Aughrim, which heralded the beginning of the end of the old Gaelic civilization. The defeated Irish armies continued their battles in foreign fields, in the service of France, Spain and Austria.

Bunting collected this tune from several different musicians. I play a version based on the tune printed in Donal O’Sullivan’s collection of O'Carolan’s music. Little is known about Madam Maxwell, the wife of a John Maxwell of County Cavan.

I combine this with Courtenay’s Favourite, an airy jig I came across in an article by Nicholas Carolan in the magazine An Píobaire (April 2004) on Denis Courtenay (Courtney, Courtnay). This differs from the version of Courtney’s Favourite in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland. To quote Nicholas Carolan: “Courtenay was a comparatively well known musician in the London of his day. appearing regularly with well-established British and continental performers in the leading theatres there from the late 1780’s until his death ..(in) 1794”. He concludes thus: "Courtenay’s Favourite ... has been left to us by his fellow Union Piper, O'Farrell... We could do worse than revive it". So we have!

5 TÁIMSE IM’CHODLADH (is ná dúisigh mé)
“ I am asleep (and don’t waken me)”. In The Ancient Music of Ireland, Bunting describes this air as ancient and beautiful. I play the version that I learned in childhood, rather than that printed in Bunting’s collection.

A buoyant tune composed by Turlough O'Carolan in praise of Henry MacDermott Roe of Alderford, Co. Roscommon. The MacDermott Roe family were among O’Carolan’s most important patrons.

This Concerto shows O'Carolan paying tribute to the baroque style, fashionable at the time, especially in the music of the Italian composers Geminiani and Corelli. It is thought to have been composed in honour of Elizabeth Power of Coorheen, Loughrea, Co. Galway. This famous piece was first published in 1780 under the title Mrs Power.

8 CORELLI (1653-1713) Sonata XI, Allegro
(Opus 5, No. 11).
We have included this piece because of O’Carolan’s interest in the music of Corelli. It was originally written for violin and harpsichord, and we have adapted it here for flute, whistle and harp.

This is O’Carolan’s last and, for me, most beautiful composition. In 1738, and in failing health, he made his way to the house of his old friend and patron, Mrs. MacDermott Roe.When she came to greet him, O'Carolan addressed her as follows:

“I came, after all I’ve gone through, to die at home at the place where I got my first learning and my first horse".

Having rested, and had a drink of whiskey, he took up his harp and played this piece for Mrs. MacDermott Roe. He was bidding farewell not only to his friend but to his own personal music and to the instrument that was so much part of him. A week later O'Carolan was dead. My impression of O’Carolan is of a man ‘of this world, yet not of it' - very much alive, but a man of deep faith. I chose a quiet interpretation of this tune to bid my own farewell to a friend in music.

This tune is common in the aural tradition. A similar version as appears in Bunting’s collection in which he describes it as very ancient and author and date unknown. Many songs have been put to this air over the centuries.

This was written by David Murphy, harper to Lord Mayo, of Castle Bourke, Castlebar. By all accounts, Murphy, who was contemporary with O’Carolan, was a fine harper, who traveled to perform in Britain and on the Continent. He wore fine clothes and had a high opinion of himself, which may have contributed to his being universally detested by his fellow harpers. Bunting took down this tune from the blind harper, Arthur O’Neill. It had earlier appeared in Walker’s Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards (1786).

This is a tune I wrote on the occasion of Alec Finn’s ?th birthday, for which people had gathered from far and wide to pay tribute to an outstanding musician, tasteful and delicate in all his musical collaborations. An excellent time was had by all!

From the 1748 O’Carolan collection in the National Library in Dublin. This is one of the pieces in which O'Carolan copied the Italian style. I recorded a version of this piece with Dordán on 'Jigs to the Moon’ (Gael Linn).

A much loved harp air, written by William Connellan, brother of Thomas Connellan, both harpers from Sligo. It is published in Bunting’s 1797 collection and the version played here is an adaptation of his arrangement. The air is known in Scotland as Gilderoy', a result of the Irish air being adapted to new words.

This is the hornpipe version of the air which is well known to musicians.

A final version, this time from the playing of the great Uilleann piper Willie Clancy. I met him briefly at a Merriman School in younger days. When called upon to play, I looked nervously to a singer friend for support and recall Willie’s encouraging intervention “you have your own music, play it!”

* My harping arrangement of ’Mr O’Connor’ is to be found in the book ‘Harping On’ and that of 'Molly MacAlpin’ is included in 'Affairs of the Harp’ both published by Reiskmore Music.


Produced: Kathleen Loughnane / Alec Finn
Recorded, mixed / mastered: Paul Mulligan at Mount Scribe Studio, Kinvara
Design: Propeller, Galway
Sleeve notes: Kathleen Loughnane and Eamonn Cannon
Harp: Paddy Cafferky

This CD is dedicated to the memory of my parents and to Eamonn, Cormac, Paul and Caitriona.

Acknowledgements / Buíochas
A special thanks once again to Alec for his unerring and inspirational musical contribution to the CD. Warmest thanks to Martin and Cormac for their playing and their affection. A big thank you to Sean Ryan and Mary Bergin for listening and for sound advice! Also to Paul Mulligan for his calm and musical presence throughout the recording.

Particular thanks to my friends in Dordán - Mary, Dearbhaill and Martina; to Sharon Shannon, Séamus Begley, Ann Callanan, Brendan Flynn, Aibhlín MacCrann, Róisín McLoughlin and Jim Loughnane. Thanks especially to Moya Cannon and Dello Collier for their encouragement and interest.

Many thanks to the ever helpful staff (present and past) at the Irish Traditional Music Archive - Orla, Róisín and Treasa— as well as to Nicholas Carolan and Jackie Small.

The 17th century harp pictured on the cover belonged to Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, and bears the Fitzgerald Arms on the fore pillar. Known as the Kildare Harp, a is beautifully carved with scrolls, human and animal faces and interlaced panels. Courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland.

All harp arrangements by Kathleen Loughnane, except track No.8 by Corelli.

Track No.12 Planxty Finn composed by Kathleen Loughnane


Album & Artist Information

Title:     Harp to Heart
Artists: Kathleen Loughnane + guests
Instruments:     Harp + acc on some tracks (see Credits above)
Genre: Traditional Irish
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0103
MCPS: --
Label: Reiskmore Music
Year: 2005
Origin: Ireland