While archeology tells us that the harp was likely "invented" when early human hunters played the string(s) of their hunting bows, that simple weapon-turned-instrument took on many metamorphoses along the Silk Road. Eventually the harp became popular in Irish society in the 12th Century. Due to it's technical difficulty and the young age that harpers needed to begin their training to reach professional status by adulthood, the harp and the education of harpers was coveted by Gaelic aristocracy of the era.
By the 19th Century, the harp was a metaphor for the poor and downtrodden of Irish society. In songs like, "The Minstrel Boy" and "The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls" the harp is a symbol for a nation that has fallen into financial and political strife. Around the same time, the RIC (The Royal Irish Constabulary) embellished the their caps and uniforms with the Celtic harp and used it as a symbol of solidarity and national pride.
Presently, the Celtic harp is on the national coin and the government of Ireland's national seal. While many Americans will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day this March 17 (if not sooner,) I thought I would share just a little bit of history of my favorite instrument.