The so called
Brian Boru Harp now in Trinity
College Dublin, does in fact
not date from the time of Brian, but was made in 1220 for Donnchadh
Cairbre O'Brien, King of Thomond, it had thirty metal strings. Throughout
its history the harp was in the possession of of many people some
of which were kings.
In 1221 it was sent to Scotland to pay a
pledge for the return of Muiredach O'Daly of Lissadil, County Sligo
a noted bard of the time. O'Daly had fled Ireland to Scotland after
killing Finn O' Bradley, a stewart of Donal mor O'Donnell, Prince
of Tyrconnell, apparently O'Daly took exception to an insult O'
Bradley made against the bardic profession. O'Daly was pardoned
in his absence.
O'Brien tried unsuccessfully to buy back
his harp from Scotland in 1229, little was heard of the harp for
over three hundred years, it was in 1543 that Henry VIII of England
appointed Ulick MacWilliam de Burgo Earl of Clanrickarde and presented
him with the Brian Boru harp, it seems the harp had been seized
by the English many years earlier.
MacWilliam only kept the harp a short period
of time and sold it to a Lady Huxley, the next owner was to be a
Henry MacMahon of Clenagh, Co. Clare.
The next owner was a Councilor at Law named
MacNamara from Limerick who received it in a will, MacNamara was
for many years the recorder for Limerick city. It is recorded that
the famous harper Arthur ONeill played the Brian Boru harp through
the streets of Limerick in 1760.