Turlough O'Carolan

Turlough O'Carolan was born in County Meath in 1670. He is regarded as one of the finest composers and harpists that Ireland has ever produced. A sample of his music is available here

Planxty John Irwin

Carolan composed this tune for Colonel John Irwin (1680-1752) of Tanrego House, Ballysodare Bay, County Sligo. He was High Sheriff for Sligo in 1731. The Irwins had obtained their lands under the Cromwellian settlement. Carolan calls John Irwin the "brave English Irelander" and appreciates his hospitality: "with mirth and joy he fills our glasses, Delights to cheer both lads and lasses."

Courtesy of Dearbhail Finnegan

and other tunes can be heard throughout this site which looks at the life and legacy of O'Carolan.

Firstly, the Ireland of O'Carolan's time is examined. The families of old Gaelic Ireland were disappearing and the Battle of the Boyne, when O'Carolan was twenty years old, changed Ireland forever.

Secondly, the O'Carolan biography is explored. Little detail of his life is truly known but some evidence is available to shed light on his life and circumstances. A short illustrated biography of O'Carolan is given in Irish.

Thirdly, O'Carolan's continuing ability to inspire others is looked at. Thomas Moore wrote many songs based on the harp as a symbol of Ireland during the nineteenth century. Derek Bell of The Chieftains is credited with reviving interest in O'Carolan and in harp music. Brian Keenan's first work of fiction is based on O'Carolan's life.

Fourthly, the power of the harp as a cultural symbol and icon of Ireland is traced from historical times to the present day.

In the fifth segment the flourishing harp, cultural and heritage festival at Nobber is detailed from its inception in 1988 to 2005.

Finally, O'Carolan's legacy in the flowering of poetry, song and Irish culture in North Meath is examined.

The site concludes with an O'Carolan bibliography.

Turlough's name varies in all the source material on his life and times. In keeping with this he is variously referred to on this site as Carolan, O Carolan and O'Carolan.


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