30 Harpers Performed for Tara in Dublin

A perfect event

A perfect beautiful warm sunny day and 30 harpers performed to plea to save the heritage of Tara Hill from the ravages of the development of the M3 motorway that has already destroyed nearby sacred sites.

The gathering was a side road adjoining Kildare Street and facing into the entrance of the Dail, Ireland’s seat of Government today.

Madeleine Doherty was the first to arrive, just before 2:30 and set up with her unique beautiful blue concert harp.  Though advertised as a 3:00 pm start 20 harpers had arrived, quickly tuned up and into a beautiful collective performance of Brian Boru’s March by about 2:50. The pa sound system and mixing was perfect.

All kinds of harpers

All kinds of harps and harper personalities turned up ranging from colourful towering concert harps played with evening gowned angels to small rustic harps of ancient folk tradition performed by country folks. There were senior life service performers and enthusiastic young students. There were ceili session players and players from the travelling community. What touched me, and the other harpers were some homeless street busking harpers who joined in as equals with full respect from the other players.

Just after 2:00 pm and about three beautiful tunes played with outstanding unity, Laoise Kelly introduced a line of guest speakers who all spoke with passion, focus and never with a ramble. They were a joy to listen too, and covered opinions from both left and right political thinking but all common in their expression to preserve the heritage of Tara Hill.

… and the speakers

Speakers included Kathy Sinnott MEP, Navan born international actor Stuart Townsend and Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains who finished his speaks by playing “O'Neills March, that was quickly accompanied by the harpers. Before the harpers commenced earlier I was fortunate to have a good and interesting chat with Paddy about harping and harp music. Interestingly, the paparrazi and public took quite awhile to recognize him, hence the time I had to chat to him.

… and the paparrazi

Talking of paparrazi, I was thrilled to secure a wonderful video filming spot before the paparrazi worked out what to do so I will have a lovely video from the event to share with you soon. Unfortunately, my photographs are few as I was holding on tight to my video spot and action.  All kinds of TV and newspaper cameramen were there and reporters eager to get interviews.

… and the “who’s who” of harpers

After the speakers another 10 harpers had arrived and set up. The ratio was an interesting 26 women harpers to 4 men. The men included Cormac de Barra, a street busker, a very proficient elderly man and a young Japanese player who’s playing was spectacular. I tried to catch up with him to find out who he is, but he was the first to pack up and disappear after the event.

Amongst the women were the organizers Laoise Kelly and Anne-Marie O’Farrell, both lovely women as well as stunning harpers. I will have to show around the video to identify other names present. Madeleine Doherty is one I certainly know and her harp was certainly a driving force for the other harpers around her. One surprise absence was Moya Brennan.

The, now 30, harpers, performed about and additional 30 minutes of tunes, including a powerful reprise of Brian Boru’s March. The sound was an extremely emotional and moving experience on what could have not been a better weather day.

… and to follow?

I am writing this during the evening after because tomorrow, Sunday 23rd, I aim to be part of the human harp that is to be formed for aerial photography on Tara Hill and then published in Monday’s Irish Times. Ideally 1000 participants are needed for the human harp and Bus Eireann, Ireland’s bus service, are running a frequent shuttle from Dublin to Tara Hill to get participants to the hill for rehearsal at 1:00 pm ready for a 3:00 pm photography shot. This shuttle service takes pressure off of Tara Hill’s limited parking.

Hopefully, on Monday I’ll be at home editing the hour of video footage taken today at the harper’s event that I will share with you asap.


  1. What makes you think buskers are homeless?

  2. Yes, open for mis-interpretation ss I know some buskers who make a great living and enjoy good homes. However, I did recognise at least 2 harpers at that event who I have spoken to in the past and they talked of their struggles to find shelter at nights. They try to sell home made CDs to pay for hostel accommodation and food, Homeless people is, unfortunately, quite common in Dublin.


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