Ireland's Harp: The Shaping of Irish Identity C. 1770 to 1880

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9781906359867: Ireland's Harp: The Shaping of Irish Identity C. 1770 to 1880

'Mary Louise O'Donnell is to the forefront of a new generation of Irish scholars whose focus is Irish musical tradition. Her ability to situate the music within a broad social and political canvas results in a wealth of fresh insights that will invigorate this rising aspect of Irish Studies across the world.' (Professor Micheal O Suilleabhain, Irish World Academy, University of Limerick) Mary Louise O'Donnell has written an authoritative and detailed study of the role played by the wire-strung Irish harp in the development of Irish cultural identity and nationalism in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Drawing on her doctoral research and extensively illustrated, Ireland's Harp marks an important contribution to the literature on Irish music and cultural history. Following the decline of Gaelic society in the seventeenth century harpers adapted their instruments, repertoire and techniques to the changing demands and patronage of the new multicultural environment under Anglo-Irish rule, while the harp increasingly featured as an icon of Irish identity. Seven essays examine the Irish harp in the late eighteenth century as icon of and metaphor for revolution, and the politics of harping; the Irish harp in the creation of Irish literary nationalism through writers including Sydney Owenson and Thomas Moore; the early nineteenth-century patronage of harpers through the Belfast, Dublin and Drogheda Harp Societies; a positive reassessment of John Egan's adaptation of the Irish harp to contemporary conditions; the replacement of the 'winged-maiden' harp icon in the nineteenth century with the Brian Boru or Trinity College harp icon and its use by the Repeal and other national movements; and the final demise c.1880 of what O'Donnell clearly demonstrates had continued up to that time as an unbroken tradition of wire-strung harping. Ireland's Harp is a significant addition to Irish cultural studies. (Professor Barra Boydell was Professor in the Department of Music at NUI Maynooth and is co-editor of UCD Press publication Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (Dublin, 2013).

Vom Verlag:

The image of the harp - symbolic of the political and cultural landscape of Ireland for centuries - evokes strong sentiments in the collective Irish imagination. This iconic instrument became the emblem on Irish coinage in the sixteenth century. Since then it has been symbolic of Irish culture, music, and politics - finally evolving into a significant marker of national identity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The most important period in this evolution was between 1770 and 1880. In these years, the instrument became central to many utopian visions of an autonomous Irish nation and the harp's metaphoric significance eclipsed its musical one. Mary Louise O'Donnell uses these fascinating years of major social, political, and cultural change as the focus of her study on the Irish harp. From the revolutionary symbolism of the harp to the cultural curiosities that were the blind Irish harpers, the many permutations of Ireland's harp are thoroughly examined. O'Donnell also discusses how the protection and patronage of the Irish harpers passed from the aristocratic Gaelic order to the Ascendancy and affluent middle classes in Dublin and Belfast. Ireland's Harp brings to light the monumental importance of this instrument by highlighting the central place the harp occupied in the formation and expression of Ireland's cultural and national identity.

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