Turlough added Italian Baroque flourishes to his music. These were popular at the
time amongst the nobility. “Carolan’s Concerto” was created by Turlough as an instant
response to hearing Vivaldi’s pupil improvise on the violin. This piece is possibly
his most wonderful composition in the new Baroque style.
Turlough O Carolan was born in County Meath in 1670, the son of a poor family of
farm workers. Turlough fell ill with smallpox at the age of 17. He survived but lost
his sight as a result. It was after going blind that he learned to play the harp,
thanks to the kindness and patronage of Mrs Anne MacDermott Roe. She took him to
live in her home as one of the family, educated him and paid for three years of lessons
on the harp.
Turlough was an extremely gifted harpist. He had perfect pitch and understood how
to interpret and develop traditional Irish music, expressing it in his own style.