Ireland is strong and rich in music. The Irish people love to sing, to dance and to make music of all kinds. The harp has always been a very important musical instrument in Ireland. In the wars between the Irish and the English, it was like a national flag for the Irish. In the seventeenth century it became more than that. One very famous harper was O’Carloan. He was born in Westmeath in about 1670. When O’Carloan was about sixteen years old his eyes failed and he became blind. With the help of a kind, rich lady he learned to play the harp. He also wrote poetry and music for the harp. People have saved a lot of his music and harpers still play O’Carloan’s beautiful songs.
When they hear the word “nocturne”, people usually think of Chopin. Chopin’s nocturnes are famous but the first nocturnes came from an Irishman. He was John Field. He was a pupil in London of the great piano player, composer and teacher Clementi. He was one of the really great pianists. We can’t hear him today because there were no record of music in his time.
Ireland also has its great pop and rock musicians. A very successful group is U2. It started in Dublin in 1979. U2 is a rock group. It knows the young people of Ireland and the things that they feel and want. They speak for young Irish people but they are famous all over the world. Today there are many Irish musicians. A lot of them are internationally famous, and that is wonderful for a country with only five million people.