The 2013 Annual Mint Set of Ireland was recently launched and celebrates the Irish Harp.
Until the end of the Middle Ages the Gaelic harp (the historical clarsach or Irish harp) was the highest status musical instrument of both Scotland and Ireland, and harpers were amongst the most prestigious cultural figures amongst Irish and Scottish kings. In both countries, the harper enjoyed special rights and played a crucial part in ceremonial occasions such as coronation and poetic recital.
Beginning in the early 1500s, the harp in Ireland began to decline. The Crown’s treatment of harpers ranged from persistent harassment to imprisonment and execution. Much of the action taken against bards in Ireland was not motivated out of a dislike of the harp, or of Irish music, but because of the fear that rebellious songs would stir up passions and incite war.
The harp has long been associated with Ireland since earliest times featuring prominently in Irish folklore and legend. A harp first appeared on the coinage of Henry VIII and has often been used on modern Irish coins. The issue limit for this coin set is 15,000 pieces.