SM0393: Rogha na gCruitirí - Harpers' Choice

Rogha na gCruitirí
Harpers’ Choice
100 Traditional Tunes for the Irish Harp

Cover Image Commemorating 50 years of Cairde na Cruite, Rogha na gCruitirí, Harpers’ Choice, 100 Traditional Tunes for the Irish harp edited by Áine Ní Dhubhghaill, Anne-Marie O’Farrell and Aibhlín McCrann was launched by Chair of the Arts Council Pat Moylan on Sunday 12th December.

A seminal collection of Irish harp music, Rogha na gCruitirí, Harpers’ Choice gives a unique insight into 21st century Irish harping and reflects the diverse character of Irish harp-playing today. It features newly-composed pieces and arrangements of traditional tunes, music drawn from the great 16th and 17th collections of harpers’ music, dance music and song airs arranged by leading Irish harpers. Rogha na gCruitirí also provides detailed notes and reference sources together with biographical details of many of Ireland’s foremost harp players


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As well as 100 traditonal tunes for the Irish Harp this volume also has notes both about the tunes and the contributors as well as a list of sources:

The Contributors

Siobhán Armstrong, Nodlaig Brolly, Catríona Cannon, Henry Carpendale, Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Patricia Daly, Seána Davey, Helen Davies, Cormac De Barra, Síle Denvir, Áine Ní Dhubhghaill, Paul Dooley, Aisling Ennis, Dearbhail Finnegan, Úna Ni Fhlannagáin, Kim Fleming, Tracey Fleming, Mercedes Garvey, Holly Geraghty, Deirdre Granville, Charles Guard, Gráinne Hambly, Janet Harbison, Áine Heneghan, Denise Kelly, Laoise Kelly, Mary Kelly, Orla Kelly, Aileen Kennedy, Sheila Larchet Cuthbert, Helen Lawlor, Kathleen Loughnane, Andreja Malîr, Tríona Marshall, Clare McCague, Aibhlín McCrann, Joleen McLaughlin, Michelle Mulcahy, Junshi Murakami, Niall Murphy, Deirdre O'Brien-Vaughan, Claire O'Donnell, Mary O'Donnell, Noreen O'Donoghue, Anne-Marie O'Farrell, Helen Price, Gráinne Ní Riain, Michael Rooney, Caitríona Rowsome, Deirdre Seaver, Bonnie Shaljean, Gráinne Yeats and Fionnuala Monks

100 Traditional Tunes for the Irish Harp

Music of the Harpers

  • A Ghrá, Luigh Lámh Liom
  • Bacach Buí na Leimne
  • Da Mihi Manum
  • Tabhair Dom do Lámh
  • The Joinutre and Jigg
  • Lamentation of Youths
  • Éirighe an Lae
  • George Brabazon (First Air)
  • George Brabazon (Second Air) (2 settings)
  • Carolan's Dream
  • Miss Murphy
  • Planxty Burke
  • Captain O'Kane
  • Sir Festus Burke
  • The Princess Royal (Miss McDermott)
  • Lord Galway's Lamentation
  • Carolan's Concerto
  • Madam Maxwell
  • Mrs Bermingham (First Air)
  • Casadh an tSúgáin
  • Blind Mary
  • Miss Fetherston
  • Carolan's Draught


  • An Buachallín Donn
  • Éamonn Mhagáine
  • An Lá is Fuide
  • Caisleán Uí Néill
  • Máire Ní Eidhin
  • Am Droimfhionn Donn Dílis
  • An Chéad Mháirt den Fhómhar
  • Anach Cuain
  • Ceann Dubh Dílis
  • Róisín Dubh
  • The Tree of Liberty
  • 'Sé mo Leanbh É
  • The Flag of Green
  • 'Sé Fáth mo Bhuartha
  • Máirseáil Scoil Éanna
  • Planxty Dermot Grogan
  • Sunrise on Vicar's Hill
  • Mary's Reflection
  • Uaithne I Suantraí
  • Uaithne II Goltraí
  • Uaithne II Geantraí
  • In Memory of the Master
  • Rune's Tune
  • Termonfechin Times: The Harp's in Bloom
  • Bí, a Íosa, im' Chroíse


  • Tripping to the Well
  • Bill Sullivan's Polka
  • Ryan's Polka
  • Bidí Mhairtín / Polka gan Ainm
  • The Middle-East Mazurka


  • The Humours of Dingle
  • Lad O'Beirne's Jig
  • Rosemary Lane
  • The Gaelic Club
  • Martin Hardiman's Jig
  • Banish Misfortune
  • The Mist-Covered Mountain
  • Connie O'Connell's Jig
  • The Sheep in the Boat
  • Strike the Gay Harp
  • The Kilavil Jig
  • The Gold Ring
  • The Monaghan Jig
  • Land's End
  • Na Ceannabháin Bhána
  • Apples in Winter
  • Susie's Slip Jig
  • The Rocky Road to Dublin


  • Devany's Reel
  • The Goonies' Reel
  • McDermott's Reel
  • Sergeant Early's Dream
  • The Merry Blacksmith
  • Compliments to Seán Maguire
  • The Three Sisters
  • Jenny's Welcome to Charlie
  • The Graf Spee
  • The Humours of Ballyconnell


Hornpipes and Set Dances

  • Poll Ha'penny
  • The Factory Smoke
  • The Good-Natured Man
  • The Sailor's Hornpipe
  • The Rights of Man
  • The Leitrim Fancy
  • Bonaparte's Retreat
  • Chief O'Neill's Favourite
  • The King of the Fairies
  • Mount Phoebus Hunt


  • Betsey Baker
  • Open the Door for Three
  • The Butterfly
  • Óró mo Bháidín
  • Éibhlí Gheal Chiúin
  • The Maid of Culmore

Songs with Harp Accompaniment

  • Eibhlín, a Rúin
  • An Chúilfhionn
  • Tá Mé 'mo Shuí
  • Óró mo Bháidín
  • The Blackbird and Thrush

Editor's Notes, Foreword


There has been a renaissance of harp-playing in Ireland since Cairde na Cruite was established in 1960. As we celebrate our fiftieth year, our latest collection of music for the Irish harp seeks to illustrate the diverse styles within our living harp tradition, represented by harpers throughout Ireland and further afield.

The music we have selected is embedded in the oral tradition. It shows how the Irish harp was the initiator and carrier of much of that tradition while at the same time reflecting its new identity within contemporary Irish traditional music. ‘We also feature music from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries drawn from the great collections of harpers’ music, originally performed on the wire-strung Irish harp and faithfully adapted to suit the contemporary gut-strung instrument.

Unlike other traditional instruments, the harp, for mainly historic reasons, has never identified with regional interpretative and performance styles. In this collection, however, harpers bring their unique insight and experience of Irish traditional music to their arrangements of the traditional tunes. Apart from the music of the harpers, we include traditional songs, dance music, marches, newly composed music for the harp, slow airs and contemporary interpretations of the ancient Irish harp genres: suantraí, goltraí and geantraí (sleep music, sad music and joyful music). The arrangements also allow for flexibility of approach, acknowledging that some players will emulate the earlier style of harp-playing with nails (as in Da Mihi Manum and The Jointure and Jigg) while others will play in the later style with finger pads.

Melodic variation and ornamentation are integral to the character and integrity of Irish music and were prevalent too in the early harp music. Some of our arrangers have given indications of how a tune could be ornamented and varied. In these cases we have respected the individual choices of the contributors. Others have adopted a more flexible approach and have decided to allow the individual performer scope to vary and ornament appropriately.

We have decided to omit annotated fingering but urge performers when fingering a tune to observe the melody line’s intrinsic structure and phrasing. The multi-modal nature of Irish music can impose significant technical demands, and lever-changes are denoted by a stemless, diamond-shaped note-head. We have not included additional words or translations with the song airs. Where possible, sources of additional words or translations of song airs are indicated in the accompanying notes.

In consultation with our arrangers, we have given indicative metronome markings with arrangements of the dance music. We have omitted expression markings, but to assist understanding and interpretation of some of the harpers’ music and airs, we recommend a dynamic or tempo marking. In places we have also removed bar-lines to enable freer expression of melodic nuance and song metre. Similarly we have chosen to notate hornpipes, which are typically characterised by a dotted rhythm, with even quavers. Bearing in mind that Irish music is an oral tradition, we would emphasise the importance of listening to other musicians to foster an understanding of varying styles.

Following in the footsteps of the great collectors, Bunting, Petrie and Joyce, who strove to preserve an ebbing harp tradition, we strive to create awareness of the richness of the Irish harp’s legacy as well as celebrating the vibrancy of harping in our fiftieth year. We hope that these arrangements of harp music will act as a unifying force and that they will be an inspiration to harpers everywhere, encouraging them to celebrate our national instrument.

Áine Ní Dhubhghaill, Anne-Marie O’Farrell and Aibhlín McCrann.


In recent years there has been a new engagement with the harp and harp music for its own sake, an engagement that builds on the work of decades by those who have been responsible for its preservation and revival. It is acknowledged of course that the harp’s thousand-year history in Ireland gives it a unique position as a marker of Irish identity; but it is also realised that it is an instrument like no other. Harpers also play fiddles and concertinas, flutes and uilleann pipes, but they come to the harp for its unique musical character and its unique wire-strung and gut-strung sonorities.

The continued health of the Irish harp relies, among other things, on a constant supply of new musical material. This may consist of revived tunes from the older surviving seventeenth and eighteenth-century harp heritage or from the newer nineteenth and twentieth-century ones, or from the general body of Irish traditional music. Or, crucially, it may consist of new compositions by harpers. But without regular infusions of new music, repertory will become over-familiar and stale, as in any musical genre. Although the Irish harp continues to belong essentially and centrally to the oral tradition, notated printed music will continue to form one quick and convenient way to introduce new material to harpers, and enable them to experiment with the harmonic possibilities of tunes for their own individual, oral re-creation.

Harpers are fortunate in having their own rich repertory of music that responds to the nature of their instrument, and they are fortunate also in having important printed source collections of this music ranging from the Neal collection of 1724 to Bunting’s last volume of 1840, which preserved the fast-disappearing tunes of the professional harpers of the period. Donal O’Sullivan’s scholarly re-editions of Bunting’s work and his collections of the music of Turlough Carolan and the songs of the harpers are a valuable re-presentation and contextualisation of the older material.

This new publication of harp tunes, the latest in the Cairde na Cruite series, draws on that historical richness and on the creativity of modern players and teachers. It is therefore to be warmly welcomed as another essential infusion of relevant tunes for contemporary players, and another contribution towards the forging of a twenty-first-century tradition for the Irish harp by the players who know it intimately.

Nicholas Carolan, Irish Traditional Music Archive. October 2010


Sample Page

Sample of the music

Library Information

Title: Rogha na gCruitirí
Harpers’ Choice
Contents: 100 Traditional Tunes for the Irish Harp - See panel above
Arranged by : 50+ Contributors - See panel above
Instrumentation: Lever Harp
Level: Varied
Format: Wire Stapled score
Weight: 820gm
ISMN: 979-0-9002208-0-6
Our Ref: SM0393
Publisher: Cairde na Cruite
Edition/Year: 2010
Origin: Ireland