Burns Library Acquires
Rare 19th Century Irish Harp

By Irish America Staff
February / March 2003

An Irish harp handcrafted in Dublin in the 1820s has been acquired by the John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College and is now on display in the library’s Irish Room.

The 35-tach wooden harp decorated with gold shamrocks was crafted by John Egan, a leading harp-maker of the time and was bought at auction by New York concert soprano Heidi Nitze who set out to find a proper home for the historic instrument. Discussions with Nancy Hurrell of the Historical Harp Society led to the instrument’s being presented to the Bums Library where it now resides alongside a second Egan harp, which is on loan to Boston College.

“The harp is not only the symbol of Ireland, but it also symbolizes the Burns Library’s commitment to the preservation of Irish music, especially as it crossed the Atlantic,” said Robert O’Neill, Librarian at the Burns Library (pictured with Irish Music Librarian Beth Sweeney). The Burns Library has what is considered to be the most comprehensive collection of Irish research materials in the United States. ♦

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