Trinity College, Brian Boro's Harp, Dublin City, Co. Dublin

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The Harp that once through Tara's halls... Well it may have been heard in Kincora?

Here we see the Trinity College (or Brian Boru) harp as it was following (what the Wikipedia article describes as) a "bad restoration" of the 1830s. A bad restoration or not, it was in the form we see here that the harp became the model for the coat of arms of Ireland, the Guinness logo, the coins of Ireland, etc. It was subject to a more complete (and better received) restoration in the 1960s.

As contributors to the discussion below point-out, while legend implies that the harp once belonged to the 11th century High King Brian Boru, more concrete evidence dates it to the 15th century. Following restoration in the 1960s, the harp was dramatically stolen from and returned to Trinity College, Dublin. The ancient harp continues to be displayed in the long room of the library at Trinity.


Photographer: Robert French

Collection: Lawrence Photograph Collection

Date: between ca. 1865-1914

NLI Ref: L_ROY_04794

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie

Info:

Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 49921
robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection lawrencephotographicstudio glassnegative nationallibraryofireland brianborusharp trinitycollege dublin library harp trinityharp restoration kidnap cláirseach explore coatofarms symbol georgepetrie oneill lawrencephotographcollection

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  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 24/Aug/2016 07:51:25

    Per wikipedia: The Trinity College harp (also known as Brian Boru's Harp) is a medieval musical instrument on display in the long room at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. It is an early Irish harp or wire strung cláirseach. It is dated to the 14th or 15th century and, along with the Queen Mary Harp and the Lamont Harp, is one of the three oldest surviving Gaelic harps.[1] The harp was used as a model for the coat of arms of Ireland.

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    sharon.corbet

    • 24/Aug/2016 07:52:51

    My attempt at reading the handwritten bit below: This harp dates from about A.D. 1400 AD. It is believed by Petrie (???) to have been used for ecclesiastical(?) purposes. It bears the ??? of O’Neil, and the symbol HIS in Gothic letters. It was actually played in the streets(?) of Limerick by Arthur O’Neil in 1760.

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 24/Aug/2016 07:54:40

    Currently on display (in restored form) in the Long Room: The Long Room

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    sharon.corbet

    • 24/Aug/2016 07:55:53

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley Later in the wiki article: In 1961 the harp was exhibited in London, and it was dismantled and reconstructed by the British Museum into the wider shape it has nowadays, being the playable mediaeval form. The earlier heraldic and trade mark designs that were modelled on it were based on a thinner form that was the result of a bad restoration in the 1830s. Visitors are therefore often surprised at how wide the real harp is, compared to the harp on Irish coins.

  • profile

    B-59

    • 24/Aug/2016 08:30:07

    "Petrie" on the handwritten label is George Petrie (1 January 1790 – 17 January 1866), an Irish painter, musician, antiquary and archaeologist en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Petrie_(artist) Script below is: "See Petrie in Preface to Bunting's Ancient Music of Ireland Ed. 1840"

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    B-59

    • 24/Aug/2016 08:31:55

    See this book in archive.org/stream/imslp-ancient-music-of-ireland-bunting... The treatise of George Petrie is on page 40 ff.

  • profile

    B-59

    • 24/Aug/2016 08:35:56

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] The symbol in Gothic letters is IHS, a Christogram, s. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christogram#Western_Christianity "In the Latin-speaking Christianity of medieval Western Europe (and so among Catholics and many Protestants today), the most common Christogram became "IHS" or "IHC", denoting the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, IHΣΟΥΣ, iota-eta-sigma, or ΙΗΣ."

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 24/Aug/2016 08:51:43

    Interesting short talk about this harp - youtu.be/J0ccbVqH8O8 And I imagine it sounded a bit like this 'Brian Boru's March' - youtu.be/q_1wakSLsAU

  • profile

    B-59

    • 24/Aug/2016 09:22:15

    According to oneillclans.com/12-history/miscellaneous/93-the-red-hand-..., the harp bears the coat of arms of the O'Neill clan. Therefore I think that the inscription is " ... It bears the arms of O’Neil ..."

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    B-59

    • 24/Aug/2016 09:37:29

    About the history of the harp s. also brianborumillennium.com/history/

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    oaktree_brian_1976

    • 24/Aug/2016 11:57:15

    oh cool, the Irish harp on the coat of arms and flag and such

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    guliolopez

    • 24/Aug/2016 15:28:09

    While the story of the harp's 11th century origins are a legendary fabrication, the (more likely) 15th century construction are supported by more historical evidence. In the intervening centuries it was seemingly changed quite a bit. Possibly as much as Trigger's brush from Fools and Horses. By the 20th century, as [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] points out, the big difference between how the harp appears here (in "our" French/Lawrence image), and how it appears today (below) is the reconstruction/renovation of 1961. For those more interested in Bond and cops-and-robbers (than the dry academia of dating and restoration), there's the story of how the harp was "kidnapped". Within a few years of it's return (in restored form) from the British Museum, it was stolen and held to ransom. It was eventually returned in dramatic circumstances - involving stakeouts, car chases, a discarded gun, and re-excavation from a hiding place at a sandpit in Blessington..... www.flickr.com/photos/rawpoci/6870521857/

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    Dún Laoghaire Micheál

    • 24/Aug/2016 18:39:02

    So many erudite comments but not a mention of Sally O'Brien (and the way she might look at ye)

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 24/Aug/2016 21:37:53

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] I had to ask the Great God of Google about Sally O'Brien ! - youtu.be/ExTRZxDRYPg Guinness has been using the harp trademark since 1862 (ie before this photo) and "... there is a difference between the Irish government harp and the Guinness harp. As Guinness had trademarked the harp symbol in 1876, the Irish Free State Government of 1922, had to turn the official government harp the other way to differentiate between the trademarked Guinness harp and the official State emblem. The distinguishing feature between the two harps is that the Guinness Harp always appears with its straight edge (the sound board) to the left, and the government harp is always shown with its straight edge to the right." From - www.wirestrungharp.com/culture/guinness/harp_trademark.html

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    Shey Braoinn

    • 25/Aug/2016 10:43:49

    Had to pull a string or two to get into Trinity! 😊

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    ℝakel_ℰlke ﴾͡๏̯͡๏﴿

    • 25/Aug/2016 12:39:57

    Wonderful image. Congratulations on the Explore! ❤ greetings from Spain!

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    suebritkim

    • 25/Aug/2016 13:56:52

    Interesting history!

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    Luicabe

    • 25/Aug/2016 14:29:03

    https://farm1.staticflickr.com/583/22031577238_a3493baf38_s.jpg”" width="“75”" height="75" alt="Luicabe - me gusta" />

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    DonPepper Photography

    • 25/Aug/2016 20:01:45

    So yummy and good. Gorgeous light and color. Congratulations on Explore! Regards www.flickr.com/photos/rocotoyellow/ Congratulations on Explore! Regards www.flickr.com/photos/rocotoyellow/

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    sirwiseowl

    • 25/Aug/2016 22:04:02

    Please consider joining and adding this excellent image to the table top group at: www.flickr.com/groups/creative_tabletop_photography/

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    die Augen

    • 26/Aug/2016 02:57:08

    “You got a beautiful picture; nice work, congratulations!!!!” Regards https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14142610360/in/album-72157644966920712/

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    jamica1

    • 26/Aug/2016 17:05:16

    Is "harpist" or "harper" the more usual term for a player of this instrument in Ireland? Or is a distinction systematically made between the two?

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    Owen J Fitzpatrick

    • 28/Aug/2016 13:55:38

    Any chance of Gibson Les Paul doing a job on it? Wonderful post. Fascinating info.

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    oaktree_brian_1976

    • 28/Aug/2016 16:44:23

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/owen_fitzpatrick Smoke on the Water? Yeah the Irish will love that.