Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Watch John Clarke Play ‘O’Carolan’s Concerto’

In America particularly, March 17 is celebrated by many as St. Patrick’s Day, used as an excuse to claim Irish heritage for a day, to wear green clothing, eat corned beef, and yes, perhaps to drink a tad in excess. You know Americans—any excuse for a party! Because I DO have some Irish blood in me, and will wear green, eat corned beef, and perhaps enjoy a very modest intake of spirits, I thought I should devote today’s post to some Irish music played on the classical guitar.

Turlough O’Carolan (1670–1738) was a prolific blind Irish harpist, singer, and songwriter, whose works (which number over 200) have been performed for centuries in Ireland, but worldwide have enjoyed their greatest success just in the past 50 years. Many illustrious guitarists, such as Richard Thompson, John Renbourn, and John Williams have adapted O’Carolan harp pieces for guitar, and if YouTube is any indicator, his popularity is still growing 280 years after his death. (John Williams recorded O’Carolan’s Concerto on his 1996 album The Mantis & the Moon.) The version we’ve selected is by San Francisco–based John H. Clarke, who is a successful online classical/Spanish guitar instructor. Alas we don’t get to actually see any of John except his hands (great if you’d like to try to play it!), so here’s photo of him below, playing a Hill Guitar.   —Blair Jackson