Playing the stringed musical instrument the harp is undergoing a resurgence in Armagh.

Harp playing is having a revival in Portadown in County Armagh thanks to the efforts of two teachers Jim McParland, a metalwork teacher in the local technical college and primary schoolteacher Eileen Fitzpatrick.

Jim McParland says there is a strong tradition of harp playing in County Armagh. Patrick Quinn from Portadown and 15 year old William Caer both participated in the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792.

I collected some students from the local Comhaltas branch who could play the piano and other instruments and I decided to try the harp class then.

Once a week, about a dozen children gather for harp lessons in the sitting room of Jim McParland's home. The pupils availing of the free tuition, range in age from 9 to 16 years of age, and there is a big demand for the class. 

The students have only being playing the harp for a year, but already they have had success in competitions. They won a second place and two thirds in the All-Ireland Fleadh.

At first the pupils only had two harps to play on and buying more instruments was beyond their resources. However Jim utilised his skills, and using an old book on harp design as his guide, produced 10 traditional style Irish harps in his garage. A grant from the Northern Ireland Arts Council helped him purchase the tools required for the job.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 11 September 1978. The reporter is John Deering.