Celtic harpist receives standing ovation for Christmas performance

Dec 6, 2022

“In the deep midwinter the snow is beautiful all winter long,” sang Irish harpist and composer Áine Minogue during her performance at the Wareham Free Library on Monday, Dec. 5. 

The Library meeting room was overflowing with eager fans awaiting Minogue’s unique fusion of spoken word poetry and harp playing.

Minogue said that music has always been a part of her life. 

“I started playing when I was a little girl, for as long as I can remember,” she said. 

The youngest of 10 children, Minogue followed three of her older sisters by learning how to play the harp at Convent of Mercy Boarding School in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland .

“I took to it right away and I fell in love with it,” Minogue said. 

Minogue shocked the crowd when she said that her lever harp, which plays notes by releasing levers rather than pressing pedals, only weighs 27 pounds. 

“It’s hollow on the inside,” she said, turning the instrument to let the crowd see the holes on its side. 

Minogue’s performance consisted of ethereal singing and whimsical harp playing with poetry in between. 

Her Celtic folklore-inspired Christmas music told tales of tradition and faith. The song “Horn Dance” describes a Celtic tradition of caroling with a twist.

“Men with antlers on their heads and bells on their knees go door to door singing to welcome the new year,” Minogue said.

Although Minogue’s music was light and airy, many of her songs had deeper meanings. 

“Song of the Banshee” describes the creature of Irish myth, who greets those who are near death with an eerie melody. 

“[The banshee’s song] is the ‘bigger’ voice that has spoken,” said Minogue.

 She explained that the traditional Celtic view of Christmas not only welcomes the future, but also remembers people and times that have passed.