The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls'


This ballad begins: 'The harp that once through Tara's hall / The sound of music shed, / Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls, / As if that soul were fled.' It was published in 1875, by the Poet's Box of 80 London Street, Glasgow. The address has been partially obscured - possibly the publisher went into liquidation or moved premises.

Although he is not credited here, this ballad was written by the Irish barrister and poet, Thomas Moore (1779-1852). Tara is the mysterious hilltop site in Co. Meath that was once home to the Irish high kings. The piece was written while Ireland was under English rule, and Moore's Tara symbolises the seat of Irish government and the rule of Ireland. The harp, Ireland's traditional instrument, symbolises Irish culture and spirit.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1875   shelfmark: RB.m.143(144)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland