The Early Yearsechoesoferin

1979 – 1981 Won every national harp competition and a number of international including Millennium Festival of Mann and Festival Internationale de l’Harpe Celtique (Awen)

1980  Graduated with honours in Music (and Psychology) at Trinity College Dublin.

1980 Janet is first harper to tour to the USA and Canada with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.  Further tours with CCE to UK and Europe 1980 – 1987

1982-4   Studied Irish Music toward an MA at Cork University with Micheal O Suilleabhain (but proceeded to Belfast)

1982   Organised first summerschool in Cork and founded Cláirseóirí na hEireann (The Harpers’ Association) with Breandán Breathnach (of the Piper’s Club)

1983  Janet is harper with the group performing for US President Ronald Reagan on his visit to his ancestral village Ballyporeen

1984-6  Awarded Junior Research Fellowship at the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University, Belfast

1985  Janet is harper at signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Washington CD (guest of President Reagan)

1985  Janet tours Europe with traditional group ‘Oisín’ (4 months)

1986-1994  Held position of Curator of Music at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra, Belfast

1985  Lord O’Neill launches Janet’s first solo album entitled ‘O’Neill’s Harper’ 

1988  Organised concert in Ulster Hall, Belfast as closing concert of the bicentenary celebrations of the Linen Hall Library and opening event of the Lord Mayor’s Festival featuring 22 harpers, with guest baritone Paul Nemeer, presenter Sean Rafferty (BBC) and conducted by Dr Havelock Nelson


The Ninetiesaa studentsjanet1999

1990 Organised tour for the 1988 ‘Harp Concert’ to the USA but the war in Kuwait intervened and tour put on hold…

1990  Founding Director of The Belfast Harpers’s Bicentenary organising a year of festivities with fellow-directors Maurice Hayes (Head of NI Civil Service), Jimmy Hawthorne (Chairman Cultural Traditions Group and Community Relations Committee) and Christ Napier (Company Secretary).

1992 March:  Organised and opened 6 month exhibition of artefacts at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum entitled ‘The Belfast Harpers’ Assembly 1792′.

1992  April-May: Launched the ‘Harp Concert’ group of 1988 as the ‘Belfast Harp Orchestra’, undertaking (12 dates) concert tour through Ireland finishing with opening concert (Ulster Hall) of the World Harp Festival Belfast as support group to The Chieftains.  The following week, the orchestra performs with the Chieftains in the National Concert Hall Dublin (as surprise guests) and then to the Royal Festival Hall London where the album ‘The Celtic Harp’ was recorded.  

1992 May: Directed the ‘World Harp Festival Belfast’ (12 days with 42 international artistes) in all concert spaces in Belfast (funded by the Northern Ireland Office)

1992 July:1 Directed ‘The Belfast Harpers’ Assembly Bicentenary Festival’ (summerschool, archiving project, competition) at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum (sponsored by Waterford Crystal)

1992 August: The Belfast Harp Orchestra launches its first music album and tours to the USA performing at the Milwaukee Irish Fest (funded by The British Council) to an audience of 20,000

1993  Derek Bell (of the Chieftains) launches the Belfast Harp Orchestra’s album ‘Carillon’ 

1993  Janet is ‘Enterprising Young Woman of the Year’ (Business & Professional Women’s Organisation) for work in establishing a business in the arts and providing opportunities for the training and employment of women

1994  The Lord Mayor of Belfast launches the album ‘Feasting with Carolan’ by Janet with 4 select students as a group entitled ‘Clarsheree’

1994-2002  Established community organisation (registered charity): ‘The Harp Foundation (Ireland)’  departing from the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum to work as CEO establishing harp schools across Northern Ireland and managing the affairs of the Belfast Harp Orchestra.

1995  Flax Trust honours Janet with ‘Reverence for Difference Award’ 

1995  Janet is awarded ‘Prix Joel Garnier’ (France) and invited to design ‘the harp of her dreams’.  This harp is launched as the ‘Janet’ in 2009.

1997  January: The Belfast Harp Orchestra features in the Opening Festival of the Belfast Waterfront Hall

1997  June – December: Organised major project with RC and P churches to commemorate 1600th anniversary of St Colmcille (or Columba) comprising the collaboration of 22 choirs across Northern Ireland (with Oban and Iona, Scotland) with the Belfast Harp Orchestra performing in ‘Colmcille’ (orchestral-choral work)

1998  The Belfast Harp Orchestra features in the 28 minute ‘interval film’ for the BBC Young Musician Competition

1999  The Belfast Harp Orchestra features in television programmes including Blue Peter (3 times), Anderson on the Box, and with ‘Riverdance’ from Carrickfergus Castle (St Patrick’s Day feature)

1999  The Belfast Harp Orchestra is invited to perform in the Munich Philharmonic Hall -to enormous success.

1999  Raising funds for hospices in Northern Ireland and Janet’s brother’s charity ‘A Nurse for Daniel’ (funding home support for parents with dying children), Janet launches the CD ‘Prayer’

1999-2000  Millennium night.  BBC Worldwide Live feature from Belfast City Hall with Brian Kennedy


The Millennium YearsMillenium Harp Orchestra w Sinead

2000 The Belfast Harp Orchestra is offered an annual touring contract with Munchen Musik but is requested to change its name to ‘The Irish Harp Orchestra’.

2000 – 2011  The Irish Harp Orchestra tours annually to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands 

2002  Move to Castleconnell, County Limerick – establishing the Irish Harp Centre – with RTE Nationwide feature on the opening of the Harp Centre (November)

2003  The Irish Harp Orchestra opens the Heineken Concert Hall, Amsterdam

2003  Janet travels to China with President Mary McAleese on her state visit – performing concerts in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beiging and giving masterclasses in the Conservatoires of Music in all 3 cities.

2004  The first residential apprentices are installed at the Irish Harp Centre

2005  Janet features at the World Harp Congress, Dublin and gives lunchtime concert

2006  The National Harp Orchestra (featuring students from the Harp Centre school in Castleconnell) is launched at the Pan Celtic Festival

2006  The first of the training books for the Irish Harp College are published

2009  The harp ‘Janet’ is launched by French harp manufacturers ‘Camac’

2012  Minister Jimmy Deenihan (Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) visits the Irish Harp Centre to present awards

2013  Janet plans a festival in Limerick for ‘The Brian Boru Millennium 2014′