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Harp Festival Mentors

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Festival Co-Director

Fiona Gryson

Fiona Gryson enjoys a varied career as a professional, freelance harpist and teacher. A thoughtful and consummate curator, Fiona is music director of the Cornstown House ‘Music on the Farm’ concert series, a member of the Advisory Group for Cruit Éireann | Harp Ireland, director of the Fingal Harp Ensemble and co-director of the TU Dublin Conservatoire Harp Ensemble with Rachel Duffy and Clíona Doris.

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Festival Co-Director

Rachel Duffy

Rachel Duffy is a harper from Bray, Co. Wicklow. She is currently completing doctoral studies in Technological University Dublin under the supervision of Professor Clíona Doris. Her research focuses on the twentieth-century development of the Irish harp and is funded by a Fiosraigh PhD Scholarship. In addition to performing across Ireland, Rachel has appeared at festivals in France, China, Germany, Spain, Wales and Scotland and has featured in radio and television broadcasts. She enjoys collaborating with other musicians and is fortunate to play with a range of groups including Na Cauci, the Triad Trio and the National Folk Orchestra

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Festival Mentors

Drawn from the most internationally renowned performers in the world of Irish harping, the Festival mentors / tutors are among the most respected and experienced teachers in Ireland. Details of our 2024 mentors are below.

Áine Ní Dhubhghaill

Áine Ní Dhubhghaill has worldwide acclaim as a harper and teaches harp at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Her recordings include several film scores and CDs and a feature on Ciarán MacMathúna’s series ‘A Touch of the Master’s Hand’.

Áine has played with orchestras and ensembles including RTÉCO and RTÉNSO. Áine was Festival Director for 5 years when Cairde na Cruite was awarded a TG4 Gradam. She is also co-editor of Rogha na gCruitirí, Harpers’ Choice, 100 Tunes for Irish Harp.

Kim Fleming

Kim Fleming is one of Ireland’s most respected harpers and enjoys a successful career as a musician, teacher and arranger of traditional Irish repertoire. Having travelled throughout Europe, Africa, USA and Russia, Kim is now settled in Longford where she teaches music in Ballymahon Vocational School.

Kim has adjudicated the All Ireland Fleadh Ceoil for many years and continues to be in high demand as an adjudicator and examiner for the Department of Education.

Gráinne Hambly

Gráinne Hambly from County Mayo is an internationally recognised exponent of the Irish harp, and is in great demand as a performer and teacher, both at home and abroad. Gráinne completed a Masters Degree in Musicology, awarded by Queen’s University Belfast (1999). Her main research topic was folk music collections and the harp in 18th-century Ireland. She completed the Graduate Diploma in Education (Music) at the University of Limerick and also plays concertina.

Gráinne has been playing professionally as a solo musician for over 20 years, and has performed on various occasions in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Colombia, Israel, and Japan, as well as touring extensively in the United States, giving concerts, workshops and masterclasses. She has also toured and recorded with various artists, including the Belfast Harp Orchestra, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann and Irish Christmas In America.

She has attracted glowing praise for her live performances and recorded material, which brilliantly showcase what has been described as her ‘absolute mastery of the Irish harp’. Known for the sensitivity and expressive quality of her air-playing, as well as her dynamic performance of dance tunes, Gráinne’s playing illustrates the full range and scope of this instrument. She specialises in teaching Irish traditional music ‘by ear’ and teaches at various annual summer schools and harp festivals.

Gráinne has featured on a number of recordings both as guest artist and accompanist. She has released three critically acclaimed solo CDs, and two books of arrangements.  Her most recent collaboration is with Scottish harper William Jackson, with whom she released a duo recording and published some arrangements for harp ensemble.

Úna Ní Fhlannagáin

Úna is an award-winning performer of Celtic voice and harp. Prizewinner of the Riada Gold Medal for Harp, her performances have been likened to ‘viewing ancient Irish bog oak through a contemporary prism’.

As a composer, she’s been commissioned by the World Harp Congress and RTÉ, and had pieces published by Cairde na Cruite. Collaborations include legendary free jazz musician and composer Anthony Braxton, Celtic icon Alan Stivell, Grammy-winner Bobby McFerrin, and Emmy-winner Fionnuala Flanagan. Her current obsessions are Excel spreadsheets, piping marches, and crosswords!

Kathleen Loughnane

Kathleen, a founder member of the celebrated group Dordan, has recorded 4 CDS with the group. She has taught and performed at major festivals in the US, Japan and throughout Europe.

A native of Nenagh, Co Tipperary, she now lives in Galway.

She was invited to perform at the World Harp Festival in 2005 and a nominee in the Music Meteor Awards 2010. Kathleen is a regular performer and teacher at Cuirt Cruitearachta, international harp festival, annually held in Termonfeckin, Co. Louth and co-ordinates the harp classes and harp concert at the Willie Clancy Summer school, held annually in July.

Kathleen has 5 solo CDS and accompanying books to her credit and has been the recipient of Arts Council Deis awards for her research and interpretation of the music of the early harpers. Her arrangements have appeared in various publications and feature on the Harp Syllabus of The Royal Irish Acadamy of Music.

Deirdre Granville

Hailing from Dingle, Co. Kerry, a multi-instrumentalist and singer, Deirdre studied both traditional and classical music from a young age. She has toured and performed extensively worldwide and has featured on Radio, commercial recordings and TV performances both solo and with other celebrated musicians including Kerry Chamber and Youth Orchestras, Aoife Granville, folk singing group; Deluce’s Patent and duo; Sirmione amongst others.

A music graduate from University College Cork and a MA performance graduate from University of Limerick. She has won numerous solo and group performance medals, including the first ever All-Ireland Senior Harp Slow Airs title at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

She is one of the most recognised names in contemporary Irish harping and has a particular interest in the Goodman Collection, slow air-playing and the music of the Blasket Islands … where her family are originally from.

Deirdre released her first solo album, Imram, in 2015. She was Co-Director and founder of Dingle Tradfest and was appointed to the board of CÉHI on 2/11/2017.

Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla

Deirdre Ní Bhuachalla is a harpist and educator originally from Co. Meath, now based in Dundalk, Co. Louth. She inherits her love of traditional Irish music from both parents and particularly grandfather, piper Peter Carberry (RIP) who was a founding member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ) and patron of Na Píobairí Uilleann. It was at Gaelscoil na Cille in Ashbourne where her journey with the harp began under the tutelage of Siobhán Ní Dhúill.

Deirdre attended University College Dublin where she received an Honours Degree in Archaeology and Modern Irish, which lead to a successful albeit short career in archaeology. Deirdre pursued formal training in harp with Nancy Calthorpe, Evelyn Hearns and finally Denise Kelly at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama (now TU Dublin).

Deirdre has won numerous titles at Fleadhanna Cheoil, harp festivals and Feis Ceoil and travelled extensively in Europe performing at festivals including Festival Interceltique de Lorient. In 2013 Deirdre received the Comhaltas TTCT Diploma in the teaching of traditional Irish Music where she is now a member of the mentor team.

Deirdre now works full-time with Music Generation Louth where she leads the traditional music programme, Harp Ensemble programme and is Co-Director and Project Manager of Nós Nua –Youth Folk Orchestra, a very successful collaboration with Oriel Centre, Dundalk Gaol (CCÉ NE Regional Centre). Her connection to the Oriel Centre does not stop there. She performs regularly at the Centre and is also engaged with Guth na nGael, a cross community language and musical exchange programme for young people in partnership with Feisean nan Gaidheal in Scotland.

Maire Ní Chathasaigh

Máire is “the doyenne of Irish harp players” (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY) and recipient of Irish music’s most prestigious Award, Gradam Ceoil TG4 – Musician of the Year – “for the excellence and pioneering force of her music, the remarkable growth she has brought to the music of the harp in Ireland and for the positive influence she has had on the young generation of harpers.”

A multiple All-Ireland and Pan-Celtic winner, Máire developed profoundly influential techniques for harp performance of traditional Irish music in the 1970s and in 1985 recorded the first harp album ever to concentrate on traditional Irish dance music, The New-Strung Harp – “a masterpiece of virtuosity … a milestone in Irsh harp music.” (The Evening Echo).

She has subsequently made seven duo albums with guitarist Chris Newman, two quartet albums with The Heart String Quartet and a trio album, Sibling Revelry, with her sisters (The Casey Sisters) – all critically acclaimed.

Her “celebrated virtuoso partnership” (The Daily Telegraph) with guitarist Chris Newman has toured in twenty-three countries in venues ranging from the tiniest of village halls to palaces in Kyoto and Istanbul, London’s Barbican, Sydney Town Hall and Cologne’s Philharmonic.

A TV documentary about Máire and her siter Nollaig was broadcast on Ireland’s national Irish-language TV station TG4 in November 2020 as part of its Sé mo Laoch series.

Tunes Máire has composed have been recorded by Lúnasa, Dan ar Bras, Tony McManus and many others.

“Her work restores the harp to its true voice.” The Irish Times

“In a class of her own.” The Guardian

***** Scotland on Sunday

**** The Irish Times

**** Songlines

**** The Daily Telegraph

**** The Scotsman and

Anne Marie O’Farrell

Leading harpist of her generation, Dr Anne-Marie O’Farrell from Dublin has performed all over the world as a solo artist, accompanist and in ensembles, and is regularly featured in broadcasts.

On lever harp, she is particularly recognized for her expansion of repertoire and levering  techniques, as a result of which the world’s leading harp makers Salvi Harps redesigned their lever harps to become concert instruments.  She has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Irish Baroque Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Irish Memory Orchestra, and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. Last year she premiered her lever harp concerto, In Light Anew (commissioned by RTÉ Lyric FM) with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the World Harp Congress in Cardiff.

A prolific recording artist, she has released several CDs, including Just So Bach, Harping Bach to Carolan, The Jig’s Up, My Lagan Love and Embrace: New Directions for Irish Harp; Double Strung and Duopoly with Cormac De Barra; and Harp to Harp with harmonica player Brendan Power.

She is frequently invited to give recitals, workshops and masterclasses at international conferences and festivals around the world, in addition to performance at several World Harp Congresses.

She is Head of Harp at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where she runs a thriving harp department. Dedicated to the expansion of repertoire for the lever harp, she has published critical editions for lever harp of Bach’s cello, keyboard and lute repertoire. Anne-Marie holds a PhD in composition with Piers Hellawell at Queen’s University Belfast and masters degrees in performance, musicology and composition.

Recent large-scale commissions include a Civil War Cantata commissioned by UCD, several orchestral works, and a five-movement work for large harp ensemble commissioned by Harp Ireland/Cruit Éireann.

Cormac de Barra

Cormac de Barra comes from a family of traditional Irish musicians and singers, and first studied Irish harp with his grandmother, Róisín Ní Shé. He was awarded a scholarship to study concert harp in the United States at the age of fourteen. At the Dublin Feis Ceoil Cormac has won both the under eighteen harp competition and the O’Carolan Cup.

His performing career has taken him to places as far away as Africa and Asia, where he spent six months playing at Expo ‘90 in Osaka, Japan and to Spain where he also spent six months playing at Expo ‘92 in Seville. While in Japan he gave a command performance for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at their Imperial Palace.

He has performed extensively and given workshops throughout Europe and the USA in addition to making several recordings of traditional music with other members of his family.

Cormac presented the award-winning traditional music series Flosc on TG4. He has also been involved in music for theatre, performing in a number of productions including The Cúchulainn Cycle by W. B. Yeats and Mysteries 2000 at the SFX, both directed by Michael Scott and the first tour of Irish Modern Dance Theatre’s Slam. Cormac also collaborated on the music  and lyrics for Siamsa Tíre’s latest production Tearmann.

Performing with singer and actress Hazel O’Connor he has toured Britain, Europe, the United States and Australia. Cormac released his first solo CD Barcó in 2002 to much critical acclaim.

He has toured internationally and recorded several albums with Moya Brennan of Clannad.