AN all-island celebration of Irish harping kicks off in Belfast this week.
Harps Alive-An Chruit Bheo brings together the finest harpers from across the island to celebrate the iconic 1792 Belfast Harp Festival, which is credited with having rejuvenated the Irish harping tradition.
Now in its third year the festival begins on Friday June 14th and Saturday 15th in Belfast, before moving on to Drogheda and Dublin in September.
Several local schools, the Cultúrlann on the Falls Road, Caifé Ceoil on the Antrim Road, the Linenhall Library and the Shankill Library are just some of the venues where you can hear the sound of the harp this week. The opening concert takes place in St George's Church, featuring Éadaoin Ní Mhaicín, Gráinne Hambly &and William Jackson and the dynamic Scottish harp and fiddle duo, Catriona McKay and Chris Stout.

Festival 2024 celebrates Ireland’s close harping connections with Scotland, the ancient repertoire preserved by 17th and 18th century Irish and Scottish harpers, and shows new directions for harping through a dynamic series of cross-community and cross-border harp events. This year’s programme includes two major harp concerts in Belfast and Drogheda and features a series of recitals, talks and workshops bringing a contemporary spotlight to bear on our living harp tradition. 

Chair of Cruit Éireann-Harp Ireland Aibhlín McCrann, said: "It is very satisfying to see our collaboration with our northern colleagues continuing to flourish, and to highlight the important role that the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly played in the safeguarding of the harpers’ music. Our work together is a true partnership, epitomised by collegiality, enthusiasm and positivity."

John Gray, Chair of Reclaim the Enlightenment, considers this event to be “a major musical festival rooted in history". He added that it was a "celebration of the heritage of the harp and the contemporary revival of harp playing, it continues to create more awareness of the harp tradition with the public, inspire younger harpers and leave a lasting legacy”. 

The success of last year’s Harps Alive festival has encouraged harpers and other musicians to further explore the music of the Irish harp.

“We are looking forward to celebrating with and welcoming audiences across Belfast, Drogheda and Dublin this year,” said Lauren Ní Néill, Cruit Éireann-Harp Ireland’s CEO.

“Our exciting line-up of harpers shows that the harping tradition in Ireland is vibrant, dynamic and constantly evolving. It is part of our living cultural heritage, and we are intent on safeguarding it for future generations.”. 

Full programme of festival events is available at