Turlough O'Carolan, (Irish: Toirdhealbhach Ó
Cearbhallįin) (16701738) was a blind early Irish
harper, composer and singer whose great fame is due to
his gift for melodic composition.
He was the last great Irish harper-composer and is
considered by many to be Ireland's national composer.
Harpers in the old Irish tradition were still living as
late as 1792, as ten, including Arthur O'Neill, Patrick
Quin and Donnchadh Ó Hįmsaigh, showed up at the Belfast
Harp Festival, but there is no proof of any of these
being composers. Ó Hįmsaigh did play some of Carolan's
music but disliked it for being too modern. Some of
O'Carolan's own compositions show influence from the
style of continental classical music, whereas others
such as Carolan's Farewell to Music reflect a much
older style of "Gaelic Harping".
He was one of the last of the wandering Irish harpers
and is considered by many to be the national composer.
After being blinded by smallpox, Turlough was taught
the harp and given a horse, then for almost fifty
years, he journeyed from one end of the country to the
other, composing for rich patrons and performing his
tunes. One story goes that he fell asleep on a fairy
rath one night to awake with all the tunes with which
he would enthrall all Ireland. He even worked with
styles derived from continental Baroque composers, but
was of course mostly inspired by the tradition of the
bardic harpists, who unfortunately are now lost to
Although this work was originally written for Celtic
Harp, I created this arrangement for Flute, Oboe and
Concert (Pedal) Harp.