The Early Years
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
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 Years
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′