KL003: The Harpers Conellan

The Harpers Conellan
Kathleen Loughnane

Cover Image: The Harpers ConnellanThis album is of particular intrest in that it pushes a door ajar for us, giving us access to some of the energies of the Gaelic harp tradition during the late 17 and early 18 centuries, the era of the Wild Geese.

Mary Bergin.

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Other works and recordings by Kathleen Loughnane

Contents & Audio Samples

Tunes in the book

A Ghadaí Ghoid mo Shláinte Uaim /The Jointure and Jig
Éirighe an Lae / The Dawn of Day
Bonny Jean
Is Galar Cráite an Grá / True Love is a Tormenting Pain
The Two William Davises
Celia Connellan
Mailí Nic Ailpin / Molly McAIpin
Mailí San Seoirse / Molly St. George
Grá gan Fhios / Love in Secret
Bantighearna Íveach / Lady Iveagh
Marbhna Luimní / Limerick’s Lamentation

Composers Notes


The brothers Thomas and William Connellan were born in Cloonmahon, a few kilometres south of Collooney in Co Sligo. Their dates are not precisely known, but their lives are recorded as having spanned the period 1640-1720, a time of great political and social upheaval when, in the aftermath of the Cromwellian wars (1649-53), a large proportion of the Catholic landowning class forfeited their lands and property to English and Scottish settlers. Any hopes of reversal were dashed by the success of King William’s forces at the Boyne in 1690 and at Aughrim on July 12th, 1691. The end of the old Gaelic order was confirmed in the Treaty of Limerick and the eventual departure of the Wild Geese to France with Patrick Sarsfield later that year. The Penal Laws, further restricting the rights of Catholics and Dissenters, were strengthened after 1695.

This climate hastened the demise of the system of patronage which had sup­ported harpers such as the Connellans. The Belfast Harp Festival of 1792,attended by survivors of the old tradition of harping, is seen as marking the end of an era. It was thanks to the work of Edward Bunting, who transcribed the tunes played by the harpers at that festival, that their music lives on. Among the tunes he collected are nine which he attributed to one or other of the Connellan brothers. This was in several ways a moment of cultural transition. The Connellans themselves had lived during a period when the musical heritage was transmitted by oral and aural means. We have no written record of their music from their own time.

Some consider that several of the tunes which were associated with the Connellans by the harpers and musicians who kept their music and memory alive to be of Scottish origin. This is hardly surprising given the closely connected cultures and shared affinities of the Irish and Scots. There was clearly a pool of tunes common to musicians of both countries which were adapted, re-titled and occasionally reattributed to another composer - a natural occurrence in an aurally transmitted culture. Variants of a tune in oral transmission were sometimes judged to have more merit than the original.

The book also contains very substantial historical notes, photographs, facsimiles of source material and a thorough insight to the lives and times of the musicians. Also included are both Notes on the Tunes and Notes on Harping and a list of source material.

Library Information

Title: The Harpers Connellan
Composer/Arranger: Kathleen Loughnane
Instrumentation: Lever Harp
Level: Intermediate Level
Format: Stapled
Size: A4
Total Pages: 54
Weight: 260gm
ISMN: M 9002013 3 1
Our Ref: KL003
Publisher: Reiskmore Music
Edition/Year: 2009
Origin: Ireland (EU)

Sample page

Sample of the music