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Denis O'Hempsy (1695 - 1807):
Harper


Denis O'Hempsy was born in Craigmore, near Garvagh, County Londonderry. Owing to smallpox he became blind at the age of three years, but was taught to play the harp by Bridget O'Cahan when he was twelve. He travelled throughout Ireland for ten years playing his harp, and when he visited Scotland in 1745 he played before Prince Charles Edward at Holyrood. He lived in a house at Magilligan, County Londonderry, which had been given to him by Bishop Hervey, and in 1792 he attended the famous Harp Festival in Belfast. He is mentioned by Edward Bunting for his expertise as a musician. It is said that he lived on a diet of milk, water and potatoes, that he married when he was eighty-six and had a daughter, and that he lived until he was one hundred and twelve years old. Many of Ireland's very old harp tunes are attributed to him. His harp was made out of white willow with a back of fir which had been dug out of a bog.

Born: 1695
Died: 1807
Kate Newmann