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Paul Dooley is one of the leading exponents of the Irish harp in its historical form and style – using a metal-strung harp, playing with the fingernails and damping unwanted string resonance with the fingertips. He has studied the construction of medieval Irish harps in Dublin during the early 1980s and has built several harps. He began his performing career on the harp in 1986 and has since appeared on numerous CD recordings and television programmes.

His repertoire consists mostly of traditional Irish dance music, which for the most part has been learned from players of other traditional instruments – flute, fiddle, pipes. This music is a real challenge for any type of harp and consequently has not been explored to any great extent on the instrument.

Paul has also spent the past two decades working on the Robert ap Huw manuscript, the oldest collection of harp music in existence. In the more recent past he has resumed harp making, building a variety of small harps, reproductions of the surviving medieval harps and researching string-making techniques. Paul is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Limerick;the title of his thesis is ‘Harp Tuning Practice in Medieval Ireland and Wales’.

©pauldooley 2004
last updated 04/10/14