The 12th century chronicler Giraldus Cambrensis noted that Irish harpers were incomparably more skillful than any he had heard throughout Europe. Irish music was flourishing, and continued to flourish until the beginning of the 17th century, when it was outlawed because of the part taken by harpers, pipers and poets in the upsurge of Gaelic patriotism.  In 1603, a proclamation was issued for the ‘extermination of all manner of bards and harpers’.  Musical instruments were destroyed.  Some relaxation around the middle of the century allowed travelling musicians obtain ‘letters of passage’ from local magistrates.  Some later relaxation allowed Edward Bunting organize ‘The Belfast Harp Festival‘ in 1792.  Bunting was first in a continuous chain of collectors reaching into the 20th century.  Ballad singers hawked through markets, fairs and sporting occasions, gathering songs on themes of love, emigration, shipwreck, wars, murder and hangings.  These are now our inheritance. [accordion]

John Edward Pigot (1822 - ­1871)
George Petrie (1790­ - 1866)
Francis O'Neill (1848­ - 1936)
Patrick Weston Joyce (1827 - ­1914)
Herbert Hughes (1882 - 1937)
Sam Henry (1870 – 1952)
Frank Harte (1934­ - 2005)
Edward Bunting (1773 - ­1843)
Colm O'Loghlann
Zozimus (1794 - ­1846)
Sean O'Boyle
Micho Russell (1915 - ­1994)