Harp session w Malcolm n Smiley

From the beginning of her career in 1975, 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 summerschools were discontinued about 10 years later.  In the meantime, Janet had progressed to University College Cork studying toward a Master’s Degree in Music and took up the position of harp teacher at the Cork School of Music in 1981. 

In 1981, Janet organised her first Harp and Celtic Studies summerschool in Kinsale; the following year, she organised a second at the Cork School of Music while featuring again with the Ballycastle High School summer course ; and in 1985, now 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 together while the northern region’s ‘troubles’ (social unrest) raged.  On the invitation of the famous Monsignor James McDyer, she established the Glencolmcille Harp Summer School in Donegal, Ireland’s extreme north-west which flourished until 2002 and again is vibrant from 2017.  Many of Ireland's most prominent harpers started their training here....

Janet moved to Belfast on being awarded a Research Fellowship in the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University in September 1984.  Her research topic was the Bunting manuscript collection of harp music gathered at and after the Belfast Harpers' Assembly in 1992.  After the Fellowship, she was invited to take the position of Curator of Music at the Ulster Folk Museum working with the Department of Education in developing the new GCSE music curriculum and designing and managing the museum's calendar of music festivals.  At this time, Janet found that the harp was ideally placed to become a significant teaching tool bringing together children from both communities in Northern Ireland for a greater understanding, appreciation and acceptance of each other’s culture.  

For the bicentenary of Belfast's Linen Hall Library, whose original directors organised the Belfast Harpers' Assembly in 1792, Janet was invited to ‘re-create’ the 1792 Assembly in a festive concert featuring a pageant on the story of the 18th century harpers assembly for the first half of the programme, and a concert of music from the Bunting collection for the second. The concert was recorded by the BBC and broadcast in two radio programmes that augmented the enthusiasm established at the concert itself – and at the Bicentenary event in 1992 itself, the concert group launched as the Belfast Harp Orchestra.

To support the teaching centres in 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 established their base there (1984 – 1992).  Other festivals took on the promotion of the harp and Janet established the harp elements at Scoil Eigse (the All Ireland Championship Festival Summerschool); was the first teacher to feature at 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 taught for many years.  

Weekly harp classes with Janet now featured in Antrim (1984-2002), Belfast (1984), and bi-weekly classes at the Dublin Piper’s Club (1984-92), Monaghan (1985-96), Mullingar (1985-6), and later more weekly classes in Holywood (1987-2002), Garvagh (1993), Derry City (1995), Newry (1995-9), Rostrevor (1996-9) and Portadown (1997) - now significantly supporting and developing the skills of the Harp Orchestra members, and to support the orchestra financially, Janet established 'Belfast Harps' agency that served all the state offices and most of the leading businesses with corporate entertainment in the province.

In 2002, passing the directing of her harp schools in Northern Ireland to former students, now fellow teachers, she moved her harping operation to a new base at the Irish Harp Centre, Castleconnell, County Limerick establishing a permanent home and residential centre for the harp orchestra, her training centre for professional players (with 1-3 year apprenticeships) and a new teaching centre serving the south of Ireland.  In 2016 after 14 years and culminating in the hosting of the 2014 Millennium of Brian Boru festival and stage production and feature in the first Limerick City of Culture, she was awarded a Visiting Professorship at Ulster University in Magee College, Derry where her current academic work focuses on the training and development of Irish harp teaching.

International Workshops presented include:

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);