The Celtic Harpers of Detroit
International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen
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September 2006

by Lynne Reid, President

At the Celtic College in Goderich, Ontario this past August, we were lucky enough to have 2 first-class teachers. One was Janet Harbison who runs her own Harp Centre in Castleconnel, Limerick, Ireland and the other was Kathleen Graham from the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Both teach by ear, but, provide the written music for reference at home.

Janet, founder and director of the Belfast Harp Orchestra, now runs the Irish Harp Orchestra in the Republic. It is beautifully located in a small village along the Shannon River. Janet's students were kept very busy learning to play dance music and ornamenting Irish music. For more information about her and her centre, check out her website:

Kathleen Graham taught Scottish tunes on the harp in one class,beginner pieces in another, and Gaelic songs in a third one. She is a member of a 7-member band called Brolum where she sings and plays beautifully.

Harp Group
(L to R) Janet Harbison, Kathy Finney, Vickey Thompson, Kathleen Graham and Lynne Reid.

Goderich is a small, quaint town that is southwest of Toronto and north of Sarnia in Ontario, Canada. There are 4 days of classes from Monday to Thursday. Participants have many activities to choose, from harp, tin whistle, piano, accordian, fiddle, art, dance, concertina, etc. There is something for everyone. At the Festival on the weekend, even more performers are added.

This year, Maura O'Connell and Garnet Rogers were added to the rostrum. There is one large stage and 4 smaller, more intimate ones. In a lot of ways, the smaller stages are even better. Musicians are put together with other ones. For instance, Janet performed with Kathleen and a harper from Toronto by the name of Sahra Featherstone on Sunday afternoon.

On another day and stage, she performed with a world-class piper and whistler, Micheal OhAlmhain from Inisheer, Co. Galway in Ireland. For more information on the Celtic College and Festival, check out their websites: and

September 2005

Robin Hun Bowen

Vickey Thompson, Lynne Reid, Janet Harbison, Bob Peel
Vickey Thompson, Lynne Reid, Janet Harbison, Bob Peel
Lynne Reid, President, attended a 5-day course in Castleconnell, Co. Limerick, Ireland for Level 1 of the Teacher’s Course for harp. It was a very worthwhile week of learning Janet Harbison’s teaching techniques for learning by ear. Her harp centre is ideally situated on the River Shannon, just outside Limerick City. For more information, check her website at: the first week of August, four of the Celtic Harpers went to the Celtic College in Goderich, Ontario. Janet was one of the instructors brought over to teach. Also, Robin Huw Bowen, a triple-strung harp player from Wales, taught Welsh pieces on the harp. It was a real bonanza week to have 2 top “Celtic” harp teachers at one venue. Check out the Goderich Celtic College and Festival at: all these activities, the Celtic Harpers are going to be busy sharing all the pieces we have learned over the past few months.
2005 St. Patrick's Day at the Gaelic League
2005 St. Patrick's Day Rojean and LynnFebruary, 2005

by Lynne Reid This past January, we had a visitor from Kansas. Her name is RoJean Loucks and she lives, teaches and plays harp in Salina, Kansas. RoJean had met and heard Janet Harbison play harp almost 10 years ago. Like most of us, Janet is so impressive that you don’t forget her style and wizardry. RoJean had read my article in the Folk Harp Journal (Fall 2003) about Janet’s new harp centre in Castleconnell, Co. Limerick, Ireland. Prior to moving to the Republic, Janet was the founder and director of the Belfast Harp Orchestra. Many phone calls and e-mails culminated in RoJean coming to Detroit to see Janet’s method of learning to play harp by ear. No music is used. It was a full weekend. After working together for 2 days, RoJean came to the Gaelic League to meet the Celtic Harpers and to see the teaching method in action. After her return to Kansas, she has been experimenting with the technique and has been very pleased at the response of some of her more reluctant students. For me, RoJean’s visit helped to make me more organized and to reflect on far we’ve come in the Detroit group. RoJean is now exploring the possibility of going to Ireland herself to study with Janet.On a sadder note, the editor of the Folk Harp Journal, Nadine Bunn, lost her home and almost her life in the mudslides last month in LaConchita, California. The Celtic Harpers are a small group with BIG hearts. We collected and sent Nadine a sizeable amount of money to help her as she starts to rebuild her life. She had to be dug out of her home and now faces a series of painful skin grafts. We hope that our donation will encourage her as she begins the monumental task of returning to a normal life.During the Green season, the Celtic Harpers will be performing at a variety of venues, including the Parade Fundraiser on Feb. 27, the Gaelic League on March 13 and 17 and the AOH on March 19. Please feel welcome to come and talk to any harpers and to try a harp yourself.
Janet Harbison and Bridget Sanders (Detroit)
Top: Janet Harbison and Bridget Sanders (Detroit). Below: Janet Harbison, Bob Peel (London), Vickey Thompson (Allen Park) and Lynne Reid (Windsor).
September 15, 2004

Weekly harp lessons will be starting again at the Gaelic League on Sunday, Sept. 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. Teaching is done by ear, with written music given for reference. All ages and levels are welcome. For more information, call Lynne Reid at (519) 973-1263 or e-mail at LMReid@cogeco.caThis past August, a few of the Celtic Harpers attended the Celtic College in Goderich, Ontario. It’s a small town on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, north of Sarnia.Janet Harbison, the founder and director of the Belfast Harp Orchestra, now known as the Irish Harp Orchestra, was the teacher for the harp classes. Her method focuses on using one’s ear to learn the music, instead of reading sheet music. Janet soon had the classes working on marches, slip jigs and chording to fast Irish polkas.Her performances at the festival were very inspirational. Some young people in the audience were heard to comment, “Hey, she’s really cool.” She showed the phenomenal skill she possesses by playing either on her own or with other great Irish musicians, such as fiddler Maire Breatnach.The Celtic College has invited Janet to return to Goderich in 2005. For more information about it, contact the organizers at Janet Harbison‘s website is
Janet Harbison with some of the Celtic Harpers of Detroit.
October 25, 2003

On Oct. 25, 2003 the Celtic Harpers of Detroit held a harp fundraiser at the Gaelic League. It was a very successful evening, both musically and financially due to the generousity of those people who attended it. The hall was full and the audience was most attentive during the harp programme of 45 minutes. The funds raised are going towards our goal of bring Janet Harbison to the area to teach and give workshops to the harpers next year. Special thanks to Brian Bonner, Mick Reid, Justin Manning and Danny Marderosian for providing ceili music throughout the evening. Thanks, also, to the people who pitched in right from the start of this event.

Gráinne Hambly
September 17-18, 2003
Gráinne Hambly Workshops and House Concerts

The Celtic Harpers of Detroit sponsored a workshop and two house concerst on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 17-18th, 2002 with supurb Irish harpist Gráinne Hambly of Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Gráinne was Janet Harbison's top student in the Belfast Harp Orchestra. She now tours throughout Europe and the States.  I met her 7 years ago at the first harp summer school in Northern Ireland.  She was at Queen's University in Belfast doing an ethnomusicology degree in folk music.  Workshop at Gaelic League, Thursday, Sept. 19th, 2002
Gráinne provided harp instruction at the Gaelic League in Detroit.PHOTOS OF WORKSHOP AT GAELIC LEAGUE
Gráinne provided harp instruction at the Gaelic League in Detroit on Thursday September 17th. The classes were very well attended. Photos ....
President: Lynne Reid

Vice President: Larry Allen

Secretary: Evelyn Wojtkowiak

Treasurer: Vickey Thompson

International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen

Gaelic League & Irish American Club

Celtic College (Goderich)

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Last Updated: 27-Nov-2006

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The Celtic Harpers of Detroit
519- 973-1263