A note about Victorian Pubs
With its ornate detail and quality craftsmanship, the Victorian-style pub, often found in Dublin, harks back to the good old days of comfort, hospitality and enjoyment. The interior was usually lavish, with much use made of bevelled mirrors, stained glass, elaborate tiling and decorative brass.
The counter would be beautifully carved in highly-polished hardwood and the walls panelled with rich, dark timbers. The older and more mature a pub like this becomes, the better it is, whether for an intimate chat in a secluded "snug", or for singing and sociable conversation in the drinking emporium.
The Harp once featured on the flag of the Republic of Ireland. It still appears today on official government documents and the Presidential flag. For centuries, the harp has been a much loved emblem of Ireland.
According to history, the harp became an emblem synonymous with the Emerald Isle when an early king of Ireland took the harp of the psalmist as his own emblem.
Folklore says that the first one was owned by Dagda, a chief among the Tuatha De Danaan. The De Danaan were at war with the Fomorians and the harp was taken from Dagda by the gods of cold and darkness. Two other gods, Lugh representing light and Ogma representing art, went into the Fomorian fortress, recovered the harp and restored it to Dagda. The gods in returning the harp to him, gave two secret names for the instrument and called forth summer and winter. From that point on, when Dagda played, he could produce a melody so poignant, it would make his audience weep, an air so happy it would make everyone smile, or a sound so tranquil, it would lull all who listened to sleep. Thus, with its secret or magical names, the instrument became the dispenser of Sorrow, Gladness and Rest.
Whichever way the harp became Ireland's own unique instrument, and subsequently, its national emblem, history tells us that the people who played it were highly trained professionals who usually performed for the nobility. They were held in very high regard and were often asked to accompany a bardic poet who was giving a reading. However, with the emigration of Ireland's leading families in the 17th and early 18th century, there was a steep decline in the harping tradition and the last traditionally-trained harpist died in the mid-19th century. Interestingly, these superb musicians played with their fingernails and not with the flesh of the fingertips as is done today.
So, while this oldest emblem of Ireland is still very much apparent - even to appearing on the world famous Guiness label - most of the ancient airs and melodies it once produced are long gone. Perhaps the first verse of a famous poem by Thomas Moore says it best: ''The harp that once through Tara's halls the soul of music shed, now hangs as mute on Tara's walls, as if that soul were fled. So sleeps the pride of former days, so glory thrill is o'er, and hearts that once beat high for praise, now feel that pulse no more."
The Harp in Doha was designed and created in Ireland by The Irish Pub Company, the world's largest exporter of Irish Pub.