Commissioning a replica of the Castle Otway harp
MA thesis (December 2018)
The aim of this research is to unearth some under-explored aspects of the musical heritage of the Oriel region, focusing on the harp tradition, with the purpose of investigating the potential of Irish traditional music in cultural tourism in the region.
The ancient kingdom of Oriel, which includes parts of counties Armagh, Monaghan and Louth, has a rich cultural and musical heritage. There is a significant local repertoire of song and instrumental music in the Oriel region. But the harp tradition of the Oriel region has, until very recently, been largely ignored.
I engaged in fieldwork during the summer of 2016 in order to find out what Irish traditional music was available for tourists in the region. I visited museums and tourist places, and attended traditional music events, concerts and festivals. I also attended some local events which took place outside the summer tourist season, and other events that focused on the music of south-east Ulster, but which took place outside the region. Initial fieldwork was carried out by me as an outsider and onlooker, but as my involvement increased, the fieldwork took on more of an ‘insider’s’ perspective, a participant observer.
An important focus of my research has been to illuminate the life and legacy of one eighteenth-century harper, Patrick Quin, who forms the case study in this dissertation. My research through newspaper archives has uncovered numerous articles, many of which have not been quoted elsewhere, which demonstrate that Quin was famous during his lifetime. However, he has been largely neglected in the story of the harp in Ireland, and in the histories of the places where he lived. I have also discovered a previously unknown yet important portrait of a blind harper, which I have identified as Patrick Quin.
This thesis sets out a number of recommendations; the most significant is the proposal of a sculpture of Patrick Quin. Such a monument would draw attention to the musical heritage of the region and provide a foundation for future cultural tourism initiatives in the Oriel region.