Aisling An Óig-fhir (the Young Man’s Dream)

On the first day of our journey we went to Kilkenny to meet with historical harpist and chair of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland, Siobhán Armstrong. Siobhán had very interesting information on the air Aisling an Óig-fhir, or the Young Man’s Dream.

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Ilse and Siobhán


“In 1792 ten mostly elderly Irish harpers met in Belfast. They realized that the old medieval harping tradition was dying out and needed preservation. The oldest of the harpers was Donnchadh Ó Hámsaigh, or Dennis O’Hampsay. He was said to be 97 years old at the time of the meeting and he was the only one playing the really old repertoire. He had learned the harp from Bridget O’Cahan, who was from the great clan around Limavady. At the meeting there was also a 19-year old boy, Edward Bunting. He was given the task of writing the music down for preservation. His notebooks survived the ages and are now preserved at Queens University in Belfast.” Siobhán played the air for us from a copy of Edward Bunting’s notebook on her beautiful harp!

Note book Edward Bunting
Colladh an Óig-fhir (The Young Man’s Dream) from the notebook from Edward Bunting, 1792

The next day we went to the Limavady area in Northern Ireland, where we recorded the air at the Roe river. It was the first of our series of ten airs! Journalist Cathy Morris had kindly researched a possible filming location and assisted us with our filming in Northern Ireland.

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Ilse prepares for filming Aisling an Óig-fhir at Cathy’s house in the morning


Ilse and Cathy at Roe
Cathy helps setting up the cello at the shore of the Roe river


    a taster of Aisling An Óig-fhir or the Young Man’s Dream