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laoise kelly

Laoise Kelly, from Westport in Co. Mayo, is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed traditional harpers. She has pioneered a new style of traditional harping which has seen her represent Ireland at the World Harp Festival in Paraguay to performances for President Mary Robinson, President Mary McAleese, HRH Prince Andrew, the 25 Heads of State of the EU and along side Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney on the ancient hill of Tara, as well as tours to Africa, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, America and Canada.

Laoise has won many harp competitions including several All-Irelands and the Belfast Bicentennial Harp Festival competition, which commemorated the great Harp Festival of 1792. She was a founder member of traditional group ‘The Bumblebees’ with whom she recorded two albums and toured extensively. Throughout her solo career she has recorded with many of Ireland’s foremost artists including The Chieftains, Sinéad O’Connor, Kate Bush, Matt Molloy, Mary Black, Dónal Lunny, Sharon Shannon, Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, Cherish the Ladies, Máirtín O’Connor, Eimear Quinn, Míchéal Ó Suilleabháin, Altan, Dervish, Liam O’Flynn, Tim O’Brien, Secret Garden, Natalie MacMaster, Brian Kennedy, Davy Spillane, Máire Brennan, Tommy Sands and countless others. Her ground-breaking solo album ‘Just Harp’ established her as “the most important harper currently playing” (

Laoise’s television appearances include RTÉ’s; Eurovision, A River of Sound, The Late Late Show, Sult, The Full Set, High Reel, Sin É É, Songbirds, Thomas Moore, Open House, The Raw Bar, TG4’s; Geantraí, Sibín, Ceol Cois Locha, Sruth na Maoile, Ardán, Cainúintí Ceoil, Imeall geal, BBC’s Harp & Soul tour documentary, Colmcille Sessions, An Stuf Ceart. She was the subject of RTÉ Radio’s ‘Celtic Connections’.

“Laoise Kelly is a young harpist with the disposition of an iconoclast and the talent and technique of a virtuoso.” Irish Times

"An exuberant and innovative talent which catches the spirit of the modern Irish music movement in a way that few harpers have done to date." Irish Music Magazine

“Laoise Kelly subverts all cliched images of Irish colleens with harps by playing driving instrumental music” Cara Magazine

“She turned the often sedate harp into an instrument alive with the mirth and gaiety of dance music. It serves as synth, bass and virtuoso solo instrument in her sure and confident hands. She ably changes tunings, syncopates, harmonises and above all plays a stunning melody line, all in the same breath, or sweep of the arm.” Irish Music Magazine

“Kelly virtually reinvents the instrument with her rhythmic and melodic intricacy, her syncopation and undulating chords and harmonies . . . she'll have you swaying in your bath-chair with her profound musicality.” Irish Times

‘Through sheer talent and technical brilliance she has transformed it into a conduit for her remarkable interpretations of her dance music. Just Harp, simply oozes flair and gaiety with sparkling melodic lines, resonant chords and a subtle use of the bass strings to create harmonic richness while maintaining an almost unstoppable rhythm.’ Rough Guide

“There is such body and depth in Laoise Kelly's playing that at times you feel there must be more than one musician playing on this solo album, as her strong melody lines are accompanied by intricate chordal accompaniment and powerful bass runs. Kelly has mastered her instrument completely” Review