The Celtic Harp Symbol: A Beautiful and Meaningful Display of Your Love for Ireland!

Learning about the celtic harp symbol gives us a new appreciation of our Irish heritage.  The Harp is known by several names.

Irish harp symbol

Many refer to it as the “Folk Harp” or the “Lever Harp." Then, there are many that call it the “Celtic Harp”.

By whatever name, it is an ancient instrument, producing sounds both beautiful and delicate. It is also a symbol of Ireland with deep meaning, both ancient and modern.

If you would like more information on Irish symbols in general, please have a look at our main section on Irish symbols here!

Meanwhile let's have a closer look at an iconic symbol of Irish culture and heritage.

What is the Celtic Harp?

The first celtic harps were introduced approximately 1000 years ago.

As with many new things, they were not cherished from the beginning. In the earliest days, it was not at all unusual for individuals who played the instrument to be hanged for creating unique new sounds!

Today, though, the Harp is not only played in Ireland, it is immensely popular in other parts of the world, and harp symbols are a staple of Irish culture.

The instrument has been an emblem of the nationalism of the Irish since around the 10th Century.

Why are Harps Important?

The Harp appears frequently in important symbols such as family crests, various government documents and Irish coins.

In 1862, an image of the beautiful instrument was registered as an official trademark of the Guinness company.

Many businesses and individuals utilize the harp symbol to reflect their nationality and pride in their history and heritage.

Irish Harp Symbol - Harp Being Played On Blarney Castle Grounds

Where Did They Come From?

According to legend, the first Celtic harp was owned by a chief of the group known as the “Tuatha De Danaan”.

The chief’s name was “Dagda." His harp was lost in a war with the gods of cold and darkness - the Formorians.

Two individuals named “Lugh” and “Ogma” eventually recovered the prized instrument.

When the chief obtained his instrument, it had developed the amazing ability to call forth the seasons of both summer and winter.

Thereafter when the king played his precious harp, the melody often moved his listeners to tears, to joy and to slumber.

Because of its new, amazing abilities, the first harp was often described as that of “Sorrow, Gladness and Rest”.

A Few More Interesting Facts About the Harp Symbol...

You may not know that:

  • In the modern Irish language, the Celtic harp is known as the “Clairseach."
  • Throughout history, the instrument has often been considered an emblem of the resistance surrounding the Crown of England. As a result of this, it was banned at the end of what is often referred to as the “Medieval Period."
  • It has been established that less than one dozen original harps remain from the period before the 1700s.
  • The absolute oldest Harp that is still in existence in the world is referred to as the “Trinity College Harp”. This instrument is proudly displayed in the Long Room, which is located at the Trinity College in the City of Dublin.

Want More Irish Symbols?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish symbols!

Expressing ourselves through Irish symbolism gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

We have captured many of our favorite Irish symbols in an e-book called "10 Irish Symbols and Their Meanings."  In it you will find pictures and backstories for the Irish Cross, the Celtic Knot, the Tricolor Flag, and much more!

This fun, free guide is available to you to download.  Answer two quick questions below to get instant access!

Interesting!  Where Can I Learn More?

Expressing yourself using Irish symbols is a fun way to share your Irish side, during any Irish-themed occasion.

For more information of this type, you may want to pay a visit to our main section on Irish Symbols here!

If you enjoyed this page in particular, please share your feedback, opinions and stories with your Irish Expressions community!  You can do that by visiting us on Facebook or Twitter.

Meanwhile, thanks for visiting! Now let's click on another topic above and continue expressing your Irish side at Irish

Want to Feel More Connected to Ireland?  Here's How!

At Irish Expressions we believe everybody – well almost everybody! - has an "Irish side."  So - how nice would it be to have access to a fun Irish experience, on demand, wherever you happen to be?


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