About Patrick Byrne

Faoi Pádraig Dall Ó Beirn

Patrick Byrne

Patrick Byrne or Pádraig Dall Ó Beirn was the last noted exponent in Ireland of the historical Gaelic wire strung harp and the first Irish traditional musician ever photographed.

Background

Byrne, who was born around 1794 in the parish of Magheracloone, Co. Monaghan was enrolled as a pupil in the school of the Irish Harp Society in Belfast in 1820. After graduating he moved to London playing in various houses of the nobility and in 1829 was presented with a silver medal by the Shakespearean Club of Stratford on Avon in recognition of his abilities. From 1837 to 1845 he was based in Scotland where he played before Queen Victoria and received a warrant as Irish Harper to Prince Albert.
While in Edinburgh he was photographed on or around 1 April 1845 by Hill & Adamson. The series of calotype images taken by Hill & Adamson are thought to be the first photographs of any harpist worldwide and the first of a traditional Irish musician.
Byrne returned to Ireland in 1846/47 and was employed by the Shirley family as their harper. Edward Bunting collected two pieces from Patrick Byrne, Nurse Putting the Child to Sleep and Rose McWard. Among other tunes he is known to have played are An Chuilfhionn and Brian Boru’s March.
In 1855 Patrick Byrne was honoured at a meeting in the Shirley Arms Hotel in Carrickmacross and presented with a purse of gold, collected from the people of the town. He died in Dundalk on 8 April 1863 and is buried in bully’s acre, Carrickmacross.

Patrick Byrne

Patrick Byrne or Pádraig Dall Ó Beirn was the last noted exponent in Ireland of the historical Gaelic wire strung harp and the first Irish traditional musician ever photographed.
Byrne, who was born around 1794 in the parish of Magheracloone, Co. Monaghan was enrolled as a pupil in the school of the Irish Harp Society in Belfast in 1820. After graduating he moved to London playing in various houses of the nobility and in 1829 was presented with a silver medal by the Shakespearean Club of Stratford on Avon in recognition of his abilities. From 1837 to 1845 he was based in Scotland where he played before Queen Victoria and received a warrant as Irish Harper to Prince Albert.
While in Edinburgh he was photographed on or around 1 April 1845 by Hill & Adamson. The series of calotype images taken by Hill & Adamson are thought to be the first photographs of any harpist worldwide and the first of a traditional Irish musician.
Byrne returned to Ireland in 1846/47 and was employed by the Shirley family as their harper. Edward Bunting collected two pieces from Patrick Byrne, Nurse Putting the Child to Sleep and Rose McWard. Among other tunes he is known to have played are An Chuilfhionn and Brian Boru’s March.
In 1855 Patrick Byrne was honoured at a meeting in the Shirley Arms Hotel in Carrickmacross and presented with a purse of gold, collected from the people of the town. He died in Dundalk on 8 April 1863 and is buried in bully’s acre, Carrickmacross.
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