Egan harp collection

This collection contains two Portable Irish Harps by nineteenth century Irish harp maker John Egan.


The Portable Irish Harp was made by John Egan, circa 1819, and is inscribed on the brass plate: John Egan - Inventor. / Dawson St. Dublin. The harp is handsomely decorated with gilt shamrocks, scrolls, and swirling acanthus leaves on a blue background. Its shape is similar to ancient Irish harps, with a bowed pillar and a high-headed extension. It was made for 30 strings. A leather strap or satin ribbon would have been attached to three small brass knobs, found on the lower front of the pillar and the top of the neck on both sides. Inside the harp is a stabilizing rod with a small wooden foot attached. The rod is secured by the brass screw on the back. When extended to the floor, the rod provided support while the harp was held on the lap of the player.



The Royal Portable Irish Harp was made in the 1820s by John Egan, and is inscribed on the brass plate: J. Egan 30 Dawson St. Dublin / Harp Maker by Authority of the Royal Warrant to His Most Gracious Majesty George IVth & the Royal Family / No. 2036. The harp is green and decorated with strands of golden shamrocks and swirling acanthus leaves. It has a slightly bowed pillar with a rounded top, curved back, and 33 strings. There is a rubbed out area on the brass plates where a coat of arms might have once have existed. It is possible that a royal insignia may have been purposely removed due to anti-British sentiment.


Physical characteristics

3.33 Linear feet (2 objects)




Geographic Coverage
Custodial History

The Portable Irish Harp was a gift of Patricia Bakwin Selch and Dr. Frederick R. Selch, 2005. The Royal Portable Irish Harp was a gift of Heidi Nitze, 2002.

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Added by John J. Burns Library | Last updated on: 20 August 2018