Harp session w Malcolm n SmileyNeeds updating

Glencolmcille Harp Festival 1986-2002
Belfast Harp Festival 1986-1994
Harp Fest 1994-1998
Harper’s Association (Cláirseoirí na hÉireann) 1984-1992
The Harp Foundation (Ireland) Ltd 1994-2002
Befast Harps 1992-2002
The Irish Harp Centre 2002-present
The Irish Harp College 2005-present

From the beginning of her career in 1975 while a student in Dublin, Janet was invited to teach harp at the Northern Ireland’s Schools’ Orchestral Christmas and Easter week courses. This lead to the start-up of the traditional music summerschool in Ballycastle where Janet taught harp until the exceptionally successful summerschools were discontinued about 10 years later.  In the meantime, Janet had proceeded to Cork studying toward a Master’s Degree in Music and took up the position of harp teacher at the Cork School of Music in 1982. 

In 1984, she organised her first summerschool in Kinsale; the following year, there were two summerschools at both ends of the country: in the Cork School of Music itself and also at the Ballycastle High School; and in 1985 with many students both sides of the Irish border, she saught a location where students from both Northern Ireland and the Republic could feel safe while the northern region’s ‘troubles’ (social unrest) raged.  With the collaboration of the famous Monsignor James McDyer, she established the internationally renowned Glencolmcille Harp SummerSchool in Ireland’s extreme north-west which flourished until 2003. 

Janet moved to Belfast in 1984 having been awarded a Research Fellowship in the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University Belfast.  Initially, she intended to stay only one year, but the Fellowship was renewed for a second year, after which she was invited to take the position of Curator of Music at the Ulster Folk Museum from where she had a direct input into music education and community relations in Northern Ireland. The harp was ideally placed as an instrument that could become a significant teaching tool toward bringing children in Northern Ireland to a greater understanding and appreciation of each other’s culture and a more peaceful future together.  

She established a private harp school from which, with the Linen Hall Library, she revived the Belfast Harp Festival and organised summerschools (1986 – 1994).  Commemorating the bicentenary of the Linen Hall Library in 1988, Janet was invited to ‘re-create’ the Belfast Harpers’ Assembly of 1792 whereupon she assembled her students and created a pageant on the story of the 18th century harpers assembly and a concert featuring the music collected there. This concert was recorded by the BBC and broadcast in two radio programmes that build extensively on the enthusiasm established at the concert itself – and the concert group became the Belfast Harp Orchestra.

Now, travelling extensively between Cork, Dublin and Belfast, Janet established the Harper’s Association  (Cláirseoirí na hÉireann) with co-founder Breandan Breathnach (founder of Cumann Piobairi Uilleann, The Piper’s Club) and a Dublin base in The Piper’s Club (1984 – 1992).  From the base here, she with her committee co-ordinated a burgeoning interest in harping, establishing a presence for the harp at many existing festivals (including the harp classes in Scoil Eigse (the All Ireland Championship Festival Summerschool); a number of other festivals (including the Granard and Carolan Harp Festivals in the mid ‘80s) and in 1987, she brought the harp into the TTCT (the Irish Department of Education and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann’s) traditional music teacher’s diploma courses which she continues to teach and examine today).  

With the Belfast Harp Orchestra animating the audiences and raising the interest and appeal in the harp, and the weekly or bi-weekly classes established in Antrim (1984-2002), Belfast (1984), at the Dublin Piper’s Club (1984-92), Monaghan (1985-96), Mullingar (1985-6), and later in Holywood (1987-2002), Garvagh (1993), Derry City (1995), Newry (1995-9), Rostrevor (1996-9) and Portadown (1997).

Throughout 1998-1999, Janet had strived to establish a permanent home for the harp activities in Northern Ireland with the ‘Eagle Hill’ project involving the conversion of an old hunting lodge on 27 acres of ancient woodland at Magilligan. This was to become an Artist’s retreat (similar to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annamakerrig) and residential conferencing centre as well as a home for the Harp Orchestras and school. Janet co-ordinated many organisation’s interests in the project which included the University of Ulster (who’s plans in founding a Cultural Heritage department was to be associated), the collaboration of the nearby Limavady College (where Janet established and taught the Department of Performing Arts (1998-2000); the Limavady Borough Council, the Harp Foundation (Ireland) and the Woodland Trust (who were planning to be partners in the project).  However, the ever-unstable political environment proved insurmountable and in September 2000, the project was abandoned.  At this point, Janet sought to scale down the project of finding a home for the Harp College and moved south to the Republic, close to Shannon Airport (to facilitate access) and close to Janet’s maternal home (in Cahirdaniel, County Kerry).

In 2002, with fellow teacher and husband Malcolm Gullis, she found the ideal venue in the Old Schoolhouse in the village of Castleconnell, County Limerick, and opened the Irish Harp Centre in November 2002.


US and Canada 1981-95, Lectures/Lecture Recitals presented at numerous universities and colleges : American Committee of Irish Studies (6 tours), American-Irish Cultural Institute (3 tours), University of Wisconsin Irish Studies Summer Programme (3 times)
The Celtic College and Celtic Roots Festival & Summerschool, Goderich, Canada; (2005-7)
Irish Fest and Summerschool, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA; (1992,1995,1998)
World Harp Congress; Dublin 2005
Conservatoire of Music, Shanghai, China; (2003)
Conservatoire of Music, Beiging, China; (2003)
Celtic Festival, Savannah, Georgia, USA
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann Conventions USA (various)
Festival Interceltique de l’Orient, Brittany; (many times)
University of Lorient, Brittany; Celtic Studies conference (twice)
Amzer Nevez (Breton Cultural Institute) summerschool; (many times, 1985-2008)
Festival International de l’Harpe Celtique, Dinan, Brittany (many times)
Festival de Cornuaille, Kemper, Brittany;
Dans le Silage de Lily Laskine, Marseilles, France;
Harfentreffen, Mosenberg, Germany; (many times)
Bavarian Harp Festival, Tyrrol, Germany/Austria; (many times)
Munich Harp Festival, Germany;
Harp Days on Lake Constance, Switzerland;
International Harp Convention, Veenendaal, Holland;
Edinburgh Harp Festival, Scotland (many times)


Yeats Summerschool, Sligo
Pan Celtic;
Institute of Irish Studies (Dublin);
Oideas Gael (Glencolmcille),
Scoil Éigse;
Bun Fhleadh (Granard);
O Carolan Festival (Keadue);
Carolan Festival (Nobber);
Carolan Festival (Mohill);