Mícheál Ó Catháin

Mícheál Ó Catháin is a multimedia artist working primarily with performance (early Gaelic harp and voice), computer code, installation. Faithful to historical practices, Mícheál sings with the harp on his left shoulder and employs specialised fingernail techniques (which he terms “lúthchleasa”, Gaelic for athletics) to shape the resonance of these metal-strung instruments. His decades-long grounding in “sean-nós” (old-style) singing guides his arrangements of Bunting manuscript pieces, breathing fresh life into Ireland’s ancient harp music for contemporary audiences.

Mícheál works three days per week maintaining a successful engineering career in offshore renewables. He devotes the balance of his working week to his practice of singing with the early Gaelic harp and related generative art. The crossover between Mícheál’s parallel artistic and engineering careers find expression in the audiovisual exhibitions and live shows he creates.

Mícheál gravitates equally towards the ancient and the emergent. Applying his strong engineering background, Mícheál codes custom computer algorithms to make and share generative art. This artwork reflects and nourishes his process of engaging with the early Gaelic harp on the harp’s own terms. As a multimedia artist, Mícheál curates beautiful and unique audiovisual experiences for audiences across three interweaving and artistically fertile strands:

Historical: historically viable performance of ancient harp tunes and songs from archival manuscripts and collections

Traditional: collaborative arrangement and performance of early Gaelic harp pieces with established traditional Irish musicians and singers, returning these pieces faithfully to the living tradition

Contemporary: improvised music and song alongside generative visual and sound art, reimagining the early Gaelic harp in contemporary contexts.

Living in Youghal, Co. Cork, Mícheál is a recipient of Irish Arts Council Agility (2021), Traditional Arts Bursary (2017) and Deis Recording & Publication (2017) Awards. He has performed solo harp & voice concerts at Achill International Harp Festival and Scoil na gCláirseach Festival of Early Irish Harp, and his generative art has been exhibited at Naas Art & Culture Centre, Galway Arts Centre, and the Lord Mayor’s Pavilion in Cork City.

You can enjoy Mícheál playing the early Gaelic harp in a sample of Jointure & Jigg here

Visit Mícheál’s link tree here