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Irish Harping Recognised by UNESCO as Irish Living Heritage

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan is delighted to announce that Irish Harping has been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.   

At a meeting of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which took place in Bogatá, Columbia, Ireland’s nomination of Irish Harping was approved, thereby achieving international recognition of Irish Harping as a key element of Ireland’s living heritage to be safeguarded for future generations. 

Minister Madigan said:

I am delighted that Irish Harping has received this international recognition as it holds such a central place in our cultural heritage. The Harp is Ireland’s national symbol and has been played in Ireland for more than one thousand years. This recognition by UNESCO is a true tribute to the generation of harpers, who have ensured the transmission of Irish harp music for this and future generations. I am also grateful to Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland for their work with my Department to achieve this UNESCO recognition.

Irish Harping is Ireland's third inscription on the Representative List. Ireland’s first nomination, Uilleann Piping was officially inscribed in 2017 and Ireland’s second nomination, Hurling, was officially inscribed in 2018.

The submission for this inscription was led by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in partnership with Cruit Éireann/Harp Ireland.

In conclusion, Minister Madigan said: The UNESCO Representative List is intended to promote visibility, awareness, protection and appreciation of the diversity of cultural heritage internationally. The inscription of Irish Harping is a wonderful opportunity to share a cherished and central aspect of Irish cultural heritage with the international community.

Notes to editor

Ireland ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in December 2015. The Convention was established to safeguard, appreciate, and raise awareness of cultural heritage locally, nationally, and internationally. Intangible cultural heritage, or living heritage, refers to customs, traditions, crafts, games, and practices that are part of people's lives and identities both individually and as part of wider communities, and that are passed on from generation to generation.The text of the Convention can be found at


Irish Harping is Ireland's third inscription under the Convention. The first nomination, Uilleann Piping, was inscribed in December 2017. The second nomination, Hurling was inscribed in December 2018.


As part of Ireland's engagement with the Convention the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has established an inventory of Ireland's living cultural heritage at national level – a National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis and interested parties can contact


Successful applicants to the National Inventory may also in the future consider seeking nomination by the State for inscription on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The State is entitled to make one nomination to this list every year.