Co Wicklow Harper Join Harps Alive Festival Lineup This Weekend

NO REPRODUCTION FEE 11/11/2017 National Harp Day is Cruit Éireann’s first major initiative to promote Ireland’s national instrument. Pic Tom Honan.

Co Wicklow harper Rachel Duffy will be performing as part of the Harps Alive│An Chruit Bheo│Harps Leevin festival in Belfast this weekend, which will bring together harpers and historians from all over Ireland to celebrate the 230th anniversary of the assembly of harpers in Belfast, while also serving as a recognition of  the renowned legacy of organist and collector Edward Bunting.

Having already opened with events in Magilligan and Mussenden Template last weekend, the upcoming events are filled with music, history and heritage.

Rachel will play at the commemorative concert, 230 Years a-Harping, on Saturday, July 16th at 8pm, alongside many other renowned harpers.

The concert invites harpers from all over Ireland to gather to recreate the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly held around this time 230 years ago.

From Bray, Co Wicklow, Rachel holds a First Class Honours Degree in Music Education from Trinity College and the Royal Irish Academy of Music and is currently pursuing a PhD in TU Dublin.

A prize winner of the Fleadh Cheoil and the Feis Ceoil, she has played at festivals including An Chúirt Chruitireachta, the Wales International Harp Festival, Creative Connexions in Spain and the Hainan World Tourism Expo in China. She enjoys performing with groups and is currently a member of the National Folk Orchestra and the TU Dublin Harp Ensemble.

Rachel now works as a composer and tutor with the Music Generation Wicklow Rithim orchestra as well as with Bray CCÉ where she directs a harp ensemble.

Organised by the Harps Alive partnership, the festival is bringing together the finest harpers from across the island to recognise the landmark event that collected music more than two centuries ago for future harpers to learn from and perform.

The partnership between Harp Ireland and Reclaim The Enlightenment is to mark 230 years since the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly in Belfast. In 1792 the Harpers’ Assembly in Belfast brought together 11 harpers, seven of which were blind and the eldest Denis Hempson was 97 at the time.

Aibhlín McCrann, Chair of Cruit Éireann Harp Ireland, said that celebrating the anniversary presented a unique musical opportunity for the harping community.

“We are delighted to bring harpers from all over Ireland together to mark 230 years since the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly in Belfast” she said.

“Our harping heritage transcends boundaries and has really connected the partners, north and south,” she added.

“It is wonderful to hear the harpers’ music reflecting our living tradition and to see that there is so much interest in it. We are looking forward to welcoming audiences across the city of Belfast to our concerts, talks and exhibitions and in Dublin later in the month.”

John Gray, Chair of Reclaim the Enlightenment said the Harps Alive│An Chruit Bheo│Harps Leevin festival is rooted in musical history.

“In bringing more than 50 harpers to Belfast, the festival will create the largest ever such assembly in the city,” he said.

“It will be a celebration of the heritage of the harp and the contemporary revival of harp playing, and when it concludes we hope to have created more awareness of the harp tradition with the public and leave a lasting legacy.”

For tickets to the commemorative concert and for more information about the festival go to