Category Archives: video

McFall harp

Earlier this year the Historical Harp Society of Ireland acquired an interesting harp, made by James McFall in Belfast.

I don’t know the exact date of manufacture, but it must be between about 1900 and 1950. We know that McFall adverised the availability of harps withe wire strings as well as the more usual gut-strung revival instruments.

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I am tired and alone

I am wearied ma lane, pu’in breckens early. Tha mi sgith ’s mi leam fhìn, buain na rainich, daonnan. Cùl an tomain, bràigh an tomain, an tomain bhoidhich; h-uile la n’am onar.

I am tired, I am alone, pulling bracken, all the time. The back of the hill, the side of the hill. The pretty hill; every day I am alone.

I learned this song from archive recordings of William Matheson in 1976 and also Belle Stewart in 1979

This is a song we have been working on at my harp class in Dundee.

The Cliffs of Kinbellachoir

Ronald Smith in Perth suggested I compose a tune with this title. There are ancient histories that tell how Irish monks associated with St Columba founded two monastic sites, at Rigmonadh and Bellathor. The former place name is now Kilrymont, better known as St Andrews where I live. The latter, also Kinbellachoir, is not really known but Ronald suggests it refers to modern day Perth. I have seen suggestions it is Scone – in any case somewhere in the area of Perth seems likely.

For this tune I have picked up on these themes, and also on the history of a Beltane fair that Ronald tells me was celebrated in the area before the Reformation.

I had hoped that my tune might come out in a form that fitted harp, fiddle and pipes. Unfortunately it twisted and turned and ended up being useless for Highland pipes, however Patrick Molard has played it on Uillean pipes and it sounds delicious! Here’s Patrick’s MP3 for you to listen to.