The Irish harp has been inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The designation recognises the instrument's unique place in Irish music and cultural life. 

It follows a campaign supported by musicians and members of the public alike.

It is hoped the new status designation will shine a spotlight on the harp and encourage its use as a living instrument.

Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland Chair Aibhlín McCrann welcomed the news, saying: "Due to the efforts of a passionate and committed group of harpers, the living tradition of Irish harping is now thriving, with a rich and vibrant diversity of harping taking place all over Ireland and overseas."

She added: "The number of harp students continues to rise, and Irish-made harps are in big demand.  

"Our third National Harp Day in October saw events take place the length and breadth of the country as well as farther afield.

"We are thrilled that Irish harping has gained the recognition it so richly deserves and that the harp clearly occupies pride of place at the heart of our national identity."

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said: "I am delighted that Irish harping has received this international recognition as it holds such a central place in our cultural heritage.

"The harp is Ireland's national symbol and has been played in Ireland for more than 1,000 years.

"This recognition by UNESCO is a true tribute to the generation of harpers, who have ensured the transmission of Irish harp music for this and future generations.

"I am also grateful to Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland for their work with my Department to achieve this UNESCO recognition."