Airs that filled the Granard air
Echo to us this day
Fingers danced on the taut strings
Of the harps that the harpists play
We talk in wonder of the time
When our music was nearly lost
Yet saved at that festival at that time
Yet few know the true cost…
The trader from Denmark who out west
Came east, his fortune made
Did not like the history books to often tell
Of honest business make his trade…
We had our part to play its true:
Of our culture what remains…
The harp of freedom our fingers pluck
Is echo’d from afar by rattling of slaves chains…
The Granard Harp Festival – among other lesser known events of its time – has been credited by history as being the savior of ancient Irish musical airs. During its day, the harp was used as the icon of freedom, with one lodge of the United Irishmen using the slogan “It plays of freedom and is newly strung” – now seen as the motto of the entire orginisation.
Slavery, the goods produced by slavery, and the shipping of slaves and dealing in them was the business of John Dungan and his business partners – McEvoys and others, is from where he got the money to fund the Harp Festival.
So the harp of freedom had an echo far away of the rattle of chains, the chorus of the songs echo’d by the cries of despair of the slaves tears.