A blind harp player who lived from 1670-1737, Turlough O'Carolan was among the most famous Irish musicians of the 17th and 18th centuries. O'Carolan wrote hundreds of songs during his lifetime and his compositions continued to be recorded by traditional Irish/Celtic artists over 260 years after his death. O'Carolan wasn't born blind, he lost his sight when he was 18 and he began studying the harp shortly after that. He soon became famous throughout Ireland and found himself writing one instrumental after another. Many of Ireland's prosperous citizens hired O'Carolan to come into their homes and play for them, and he would express his appreciation by naming a song after them. "Lady Atherny," "Eleanor Plunkett/William Plunkett," "John Irwin," and "George Brabazon" are among the songs O'Carolan named after various supporters. Some of the hundreds of other pieces he wrote during his lifetime include "Merrily Kissed the Quaker's Wife," "The Little Beggarman," "O'Carolan's Concerto," and "The Foggy Dew." When he died in 1738, O'Carolan was 68. O'Carolan, of course, died long before the advent of recording technology, so there are no recordings of his performances. However, many artists recorded his compositions in the 20th century. In 1982 -- 244 years after O'Carolan's death -- American harp player Melissa Morgan paid tribute to him with her Kicking Mule session Erin's Harp. And the highly regarded Irish and Scottish artists who have recorded O'Carolan's compositions include the Chieftains, Patrick Street, Dordan, El McMeen, the Battlefield Band, and Aine Minogue.
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