Wexford wood turner crafts five new harps for local music group

By Amy Lewis

Published 23/07/2016 | 00:00

ABOVE: Three of the harps made by John. RIGHT: John with one of his creations.
ABOVE: Three of the harps made by John. RIGHT: John with one of his creations.
ABOVE: Three of the harps made by John. RIGHT: John with one of his creations.

Up and coming Taghmon-based music school Ceoltóirí Munna have just added another few strings to their bow in the form of some new harps handcrafted by local wood turner John Stamp.

Made from walnut, apple and cherry wood, some of these five square-back instruments will soon become part of the school's instrument bank, which gives students access to instruments without the high price. The others will be sold to some of the many students who currently attend harp lessons at the school.

John recently finished tuning and stringing the instruments and the school hope to begin using them in September.

'They are stunning instruments,' said Director of Ceoltóirí Munna Barbara Walsh. 'A normal harp is 34 strings but John has made something unique as his have 29 strings. They are made from solid wood so they won't just look well, they will play well.'

The idea to make the five instruments stemmed from a conversation between Barbara and John regarding the growing interest in harp lessons in Wexford. On learning of Barbara's difficulty sourcing affordable harps, John decided to make one. Several months later, he had five.

'I said I would make one and then I thought, why just stop at one,' said John, whose carpentry and joinery business is based in Cleariestown. 'I work for myself so when I had spare time, I would work away on them.'

'It was my first time doing this but it wasn't difficult to do.'

In the last few years, Barbara said that there has been a growing interest in the harp in their music group. Teacher Shelly O' Grady runs lessons and adults and children alike have been getting involved.

'We have a waiting list for harps and about six people waiting to start lessons,' said Barbara. 'People like it as it has such a soothing sound. It's down to the teaching too. Shelly is fantastic.'

Although John can't play the harp himself, he has been debating taking up the instrument since successfully completing his harp making project. In the meantime, he hopes to make more should anybody show an interest in purchasing one.

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