The Memoirs of Arthur O’Neill (MS 4/46, or ‘The First Rough Draft’)

A little sketch from MS4/46

We are delighted to present the newest addition to Digital Special Collections & Archives: The Memoirs of Arthur O’Neill (MS 4/46) – the first rough draft of a document which tells the story of one of the most skilled of the last itinerant Irish harpers.

This digitised document is available now with transcription.

Bunting Collection fans may recall that earlier this year, we released another version of these memoirs – MS 4/14/1, a document which came to Queen’s Library in the original deposit in 1916.

In 1917, another version of the Memoirs, MS 4/46, was purchased by the Library.

We now know MS 4/46 to be the first rough draft of the memoirs as dictated by O’Neill to the clerk Tom Hughes.

MS 4/14/1 is the second revised version, having been extensively corrected by O’Neill and redrafted by  Hughes. See Sara C. Lanier’s 2013 edition of Annals of the Irish Harpers for a discussion of these variant texts.

Belfast Harp Festival 1792

We have released MS4/46 to coincide with the anniversary of the Belfast Harp Festival which began on 11th July, 227 years ago.

The Festival was a four-day event which took place at the Exchange and Assembly Rooms in Belfast, organised by Dr James McDonnell, Robert Bradshaw and Henry Joy. Nineteen year old Edward Bunting was employed to transcribe the music of the harpists. The tradition of the ancient Gaelic harpists was dying out and the festival was an attempt to rejuvenate and preserve that tradition.

Interested in finding out more?

Discover more about the Bunting Collection and access the manuscript collection listing via RASCAL. Browse a selection of other items from the Bunting Collection on Digital Special Collections & Archives. See also our February blog post on the Memoirs of Arthur O’Neill (MS 4/14/1) and another on the Journal of Patrick Lynch.

If you would like to consult this collection, please contact us. Special Collections is open to anyone who wishes to make use of our resources. Information on access for QUB card holders and visitors is available on our web pages.

Further reading:

Fox, Charlotte Milligan Annals of the Irish harpers; edited by Sara C. Lanier Larne: Ardrigh Books, 2013