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Carolan [ Carrallan , Carrollan , Carrollini , O'Carolan ], Turlough [ Ó Cearbhalláin, Toirdhealbhach ] ( b nr Nobber, Co. Meath , 1670 ; d Ballyfarnon, Co. Roscommon , 1738 ). Irish harper and composer . He was one of the numerous harpers who made their living as itinerant musicians; he was probably the last of them to compose, and is the only one about whom much is known. His father, John Carolan, was a subsistence farmer or possibly a blacksmith. When Carolan was about 14, the family moved to Ballyfarnon, where John Carolan was employed


one string while playing the next. As well as clinging firmly to traditional techniques he played Irish music almost exclusively, unlike his contemporaries. Extremely conservative in his tastes, he even disliked the music of Turlough Carolan ( 1670–1738 ) on the grounds that it was too modern, although in fact he played many pieces by Carolan. He had in his repertory some pieces of harp music such as the Lamentation of John Scott, Tá mé ’mo chodladh (anon.) and Burns March (anon.), quite different from anything else being played at the time. Possibly these pieces


Sally K. Sommers Smith Wells

repertoire, but was quickly expanded to include tunes contributed by many other musicians in the Chicago area. O’Neill’s first musical publication was The Music of Ireland (Chicago, 1903 ). This huge volume contained 1850 melodies, including airs, songs, and harp compositions of Turlough Carolan, as well as the dance tunes for which his collections are better known. This collection was self-published and self-promoted, and was well received. After O’Neill’s retirement from the Chicago Police Force in 1905 , he revised his first collection to focus on dance music



Peter Crossley-Holland, John MacInnes and James Porter

accompaniment for sung poems ( caniad ; see Robert ap Huw ). By the 18th century, however, blind John Parry ( 1710–82 ), the Welsh harper, was already being influenced by the Italian Baroque style, as was his counterpart in Ireland, Turlough Carolan ( 1670–1738 ), famously described by Goldsmith as ‘the last Irish bard’. Carolan composed hundreds of songs in honour of his Irish patrons, singing them to the accompaniment of his harp. By 1792 Edward Bunting was attempting to note down the tunes played at the famous Belfast Harp Festival of that year, and these later



Harry White and Nicholas Carolan

of a song well, or having outstanding technique on an instrument, were admired qualities, and some performers have become legendary through a combination of musical abilities and strong personality. Examples of well-known figures are the 18th-century harpist-composer Turlough Carolan (Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin, 1670–1738 ), the first composer of Irish traditional music whose compositions survive in any number, and the 20th-century virtuoso uilleann piper Seamus Ennis (Séamus Mac Aonghusa, 1919–82 ), who formed a bridge between the older traditions and new