About Mary and the clarsach

I'm Mary and I play a Pilgrim clarsach.  I first played the clarsach at a course at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival at the age of 9 and continued lessons at Howgate Primary school and then with Isobel Meiras in Edinburgh.  I was a member of Na Clarsairean for many years, playing in concerts in venues such as the Usher Hall and the Queens Hall in Edinburgh.  As one half of a harp duo I was delighted to win Silver Medal in the National Mod and while studying at The University of Edinburgh played at functions in hotels all over Scotland including Cameron House Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond, Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire and on one occasion for Royalty in The Balmoral in Edinburgh.  


Nowadays, based in Perthshire, I play solo and like to play traditional Scottish and Gaelic melodies aswell as popular favourites.  I am happy to travel to your event - recently I have played in the Scottish Borders at Dryburgh Abbey and in Perthshire at the Atholl Palace hotel in Pitlochry, and several different locations inbetween.  I can play outdoors but do require protection from the weather.  I play without amplification, which for most venues and occasions works well - the sound of the harp carries and creates a lovely ambience both inside and out.


The clarsach (harp) is Scotland's oldest instrument.  Triangular harps were known as far back as the 10th century, when they appear on Pictish carvings, and harp compositions may have even formed the basis for pibroch, the folk bagpipe tradition. Two  harps from the 15th and 16th centuries can be seen in the National Museum - the modern clarsach is based on their design, though is bigger and has gut rather than wire strings.

mary birnam mary garrad kingennie harp