In this article the Irish harp tradition is re-configured as a space consisting of visual and sonic dimensions. The visual dimension of the Irish harp space incorporates the employment of the instrument in contemporary iconography; the sonic dimension includes the employment of the instrument as a metaphor in contemporary literature and songs. By employing Bloch’s concept of surplus and tracing the path of the Irish harp from its earliest employment in Christian iconography, its prominence as an icon of colonial and Ascendancy rule, and finally its utilisation as an utopian tool to inspire members of the Volunteer and United Irish movements in the late eighteenth century, I identify how the accumulation of centuries of utopian surplus resulted in the creation of an utopian icon that had the capacity to inspire a generation of Irish men and women to critique the prevailing social and political order in the eighteenth century.

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