O'Carolan's name is associated
harp music. More than 200 of his melodies
survive from his life (1670-1738), and his
career is all the more remarkable when you
know that he lost his sight after catching
smallpox at the age of 18. It never seemed
to handicap him. He grew up in
Roscommon, and was an apprentice to
a harpist after losing his sight. His Patron
Mrs Mary MacDermott Roe gave him a
servant and horse at the age of 21 so that
he could travel throughout Ireland. He
met Dr Patrick Delaney in Dublin, he
was professor of oratory in Trinity College.
Dr Delaney introduced him to the music
of the 18th century, composers such as
Vivaldi and Corelli.
When he was on his deathbed in 1738 he
called for his harp and played his Farewell
to Music, and took a glass of whiskey and
kissed the cup, being too weak to drink it,
and said old friends should not part with
out a kiss.
His death was an occasion of national
mourning. There was a four-day wake,
and ten harpists played. He was buried
at Kilronan Cemetery.
A Midi file to play or
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