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 CD ‘O’Neill’s Harper’ 

1988  Organised harp concert in Ulster Hall, Belfast as closing concert of the Linen Hall Library bicentenary festival and opening concert of the Lord Mayor’s Festival 1988.  Featured 22 young harpers with guest baritone Paul Nemeer, presenter Sean Rafferty (BBC) and conductor 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 2 week 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 and in the Royal Festival Hall London.  The album ‘The Celtic Harp’ is recorded at these venues.  

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

1992 July: Directed ‘The Belfast Harpers’ Assembly Bicentenary Festival’ (recreation of the 1792 Belfast Harpers' Assembly, recording & archiving project, summerschool, harp competition) at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum (sponsored by Waterford Crystal)

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

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

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

1994  The Lord Mayor of Belfast launches the album ‘Feasting with Carolan’ by Janet with 4 students as the group ‘Clarsheree’ (Michael Rooney, Grainne Hambly, Patrick Davey, Suzanne McAlindon)

1994-2002  Founded and launched community organisation (registered charity): ‘The Harp Foundation (Ireland)’ departing the UF&TM to serve as CEO establishing harp schools across Northern Ireland, direct  and manage the Belfast Harp Orchestra.

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

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

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

1997  June – December: COLMCILLE 1400 festival concerts featuring JH work: Colmcille - A Columban Suite' for voices, choir & harp orchestra.  Ecumenical project involving collaboration of 22 choirs across Northern Ireland (with Oban and Iona, Scotland) with final concert with all choirs in Belfast Waterfront Hall, Dec.7th

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

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

1999  December: The Belfast Harp Orchestra tours to Germany performing in the Munich Philharmonic Hall

1999  Janet launches solo CD: 'Prayer' in aid of hospices in Northern Ireland 

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  Operations 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 performs inaugral concert of The Heineken Concert Hall, Amsterdam

2003  Janet travels with President Mary McAleese on her state visit to China – performing concerts and presenting masterclasses in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beiging Conservatoires of Music 

2004  Residential apprenticeships are launched at the Irish Harp Centre

2005  Janet presents a lunchtime concert at the World Harp Congress, Dublin 

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

2006  Launch of The Traditional Irish Harp Tutor books (Harbison Harp Method)

2009  The 'Janet harp’ is launched by Camac (French harp manufacturer)

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

2014  Brian Boru Millennium Festival Janet directs 8 day festival and production of 'Brian Boru - Lion of Ireland' for vocal solos, choirs, bagpipe bands and massed harps in St.Mary's Cathedral, Limerick

2015 Michael D.Higgins visits the Irish Harp Centre and Irish Youth Harp Orchestra performs a new work, a setting of one of his poems

2016  Janet is awarded Visiting Professorship at Ulster University (Magee College, Derry), sells the Harp Centre and returns to Northern Ireland to develop teacher training CPD courses for traditional music and Irish harp teachers

2020  Janet presents keynote speech at Harp Teachers' Symposium at Ulster Universtiy, Belfast entitled: 'Irish Harp by note, rote or reason'.  Janet moves to Warwick, UK, opening a Harp Studio in St.Nicholas Park