Maire N' Chathasaigh

Máire is “the doyenne of Irish harp players” (Scotland on Sunday) and one of Ireland's most influential traditional musicians, described by the late Derek Bell as “the most interesting and original player of the Irish harp today”. In 2001 she received Irish music's most prestigious award, that of Traditional Musician of the Year - Gradam Cheoil TG4 - "for the excellence and pioneering force of her music, the remarkable growth she has brought to the music of the harp and for the positive influence she has had on the young generation of harpers". She began to play the harp at the age of eleven. Her background in a West Cork musical family steeped in the oral Irish tradition was at that time almost unique among harpers, the Irish harp having declined since its 17th century heyday into an exclusively urban parlour instrument. Having no role models, she developed a variety of new techniques, particularly in relation to ornamentation, which for the first time made stylistically accurate harp performance of this music possible - thus re-introducing the harp into the mainstream of the living tradition. She made a number of TV and radio broadcasts as a teenager, going on to win the All-Ireland and Pan-Celtic Harp Competitions on several occasions in the 1970s. Her wholly new style of harping quickly became the norm amongst both her contemporaries and the younger generation of Irish players. In 1985 she recorded the first harp album ever to concentrate on traditional Irish dance music, The New-Strung Harp, described by The Irish Examiner as "a masterpiece of virtuosity…  a mile-stone in Irish harp music”. Her approach has been profoundly influential wherever in the world the Celtic harp is played - "a single-handed reinvention of the harp". "Her work restores the harp to its true voice." The Irish Times. Her "celebrated virtuoso partnership" (Daily Telegraph) with guitarist Chris Newman has made six duo albums and their busy touring schedule has brought them to twenty-one countries on five continents. Máire has published two volumes of harp arrangements, The Irish Harper Vols. I and II. Further information at