How It Began
The Achill International Harp Festival began in 2016, when a group of music enthusiasts decided to organise a festival that would showcase the best of world music right here on beautiful Achill Island. As the brainchild of Laoise Kelly, the harp was always going to be central to the initiative!
Our first festival was a live three-day event. It was decided that the festival would be held in late October as in ancient times Irish harpers would gather to play at Samhain. At this mystical time of year, visitors to Achill can experience the island as the bustle of summer recedes. Its mountains, valleys and seas assume a winter pallete, as they prepare to weather a season of storm. Visitors have all embraced our beautiful island and its culture, reminding us of the wonder in the ordinary and challenging us to revisit the splendour of Irish life and its unique culture.
Over the years the festival has evolved and grown beyond our wildest dreams. We have welcomed countless musicians, singers, dancers and storytellers from all over the world. The sharing of international cultures has informed and inspired countless audiences. Impromptu festival collaborations have resulted in unimaginable performances and recordings. Most importantly, the festival has resulted in lasting friendships founded in a shared love of music. Of that, Achill International Harp Festival is most proud.
What Our Attendees Say
I loved the culture and diversity of music related to the harp that was presented at the festival! I took the beginner harp class with Úna and was blown away with her talents. She should be sainted for her skills of managing a wide variety of ages, attention spans, and backgrounds effortlessly. To all those who are filling thankless roles, go raibh míle maith agaibh!!!
The vision that ignited the idea for the Achill International Harp Festival is to make Ireland’s national instrument, the harp, accessible to all. Having explored how the harp is used in different cultures across the world, a harp-centred festival was created inviting the very top musicians from across the world to come together on the culturally rich Achill Island to perform and teach each year. Swept up in the atmosphere of the festival, audiences have delighted in the music, singing, dancing and storytelling from all over the world. We have experienced the magic of inclusion at these events, as participants of all ages, nationalities and cultures come together to celebrate life through music, a truly universal language.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not at all. Harp is central to the festival but there are a wide variety of other events to suit all interests. Please check out our festival programme for further details.
There is a minimum age requirement of 6 years.
This is a mixed class of adults and children. It is aimed at students who have never played harp before.
No, we have a number of harps available for rent. Please contact us for further details.
No, you do not need any previous woodwork experience to attend this workshop.
There is a variety of accommodation options available in Achill; hotel, AirB&B, self-catering, hostels etc. For further information please contact Achill Tourism.