In 1792, Doctor James MacDonnell advertised a competition designed to revive interest in the ancient harping tradition of Ireland. His advertisement for the event, which was to be held July 11-13 in Belfast, was published in almost all the Irish newspapers and suggests an intimate relationship between harp music and national identity: "when it is considered how intimately the spirit and character of a people are connected with their national poetry and music, it is presumed that the Irish patriot and politician will not deam it an object unworthy of his patronage and protection" (Ancient Music  63). The festival was organized by MacDonnell, Robert Bradshaw, Henry Joy, and Thomas Russell, and it attracted ten harpers. MacDonnell employed a young local organist, nineteen year-old Edward Bunting, to copy down the compositions of the harpers engaged in the competition. Working from his manuscript notes, and from material gathered during his travels around Ireland years after the festival, Bunting went on to publish three successive collections of Irish tunes arranged for piano-forte in 1796, 1809 and 1840.
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