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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: Custodians of Culture: A Social, Musicological and Cultural History of the Irish Harp and its Patronage from 1790-1840
Degree Type: PhD
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Professor Tom Moylan and Dr. Ruan O'Donnell
Thesis Status: Accepted
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: University of Limerick
Approx. Word Count: 96,500
Thesis Location / Link: Unversity of Limerick
Abstract: The aim of this study is to foreground the shifts in the Irish harp tradition in the turbulent political, social and cultural climate of the period 1790 to 1845. This period is marked by shifting political discourses resulting in a transition from a period of utopian aspiration for liberty and equality in the 1790s, to a period of cultural activism articulated through the literary works of Thomas Moore, Sydney Owenson and their contemporaries, and finally, to a period of political activism which was marked by the formation of mass movements agitating for Catholic emancipation and the repeal of the Act of Union. By focusing on the complex social, political and cultural fabric of Irish society in this period, I hope to situate the Irish harp and harp tradition, which were virtually consigned to oblivion in the 1790s in terms of their musical significance, as the cornerstone of cultural and political struggles in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

In this thesis the Irish harp tradition is re-configured as a space or topos consisting of visual and sonic dimensions. The visual dimension of the Irish harp space incorporates the employment of the instrument in contemporary iconography and the modifications made to the structure and form of the Irish harp by John Egan and others; the sonic dimension of the Irish harp space includes the ubiquitous employment of the instrument as a metaphor in contemporary literature and songs, and also an appraisal of the Harp Societies who facilitated the perpetuation of the musical or physical voice of the Irish harp through the education of a new generation of harpers. By exploring the changes in the visual and sonic dimensions of the Irish harp space in this period, I hope to illuminate the potent role which the combined visual and sonic dimensions of the instrument played in effecting radical political and social changes in Irish society.

Thesis 2

Thesis Title: The Anglicisation of the Irish Harp: A History of the Irish Harp from 1800 to the Present Day
Degree Type: MA
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: 1999
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: University College Dublin

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Current Institution Affiliation: University of Limerick
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