2015 Biking Adventure - Wales

Telynau Teifi Harps, Llandysul

 We made a last minute decision to bike across Wales and take the ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, Ireland. Wales took me by surprise. It was so much more interesting than endless rolling green hills. The highlights included meeting local people,  drinking refreshing Welsh cider, cafe and pub hopping in the picturesque town of Newport and visiting Teifi Harps.

 I gave a workshop for the Winchester chapter of the clarsach society (folk harp society) a few days before we left for Wales and had a chance to play on a Teifi harp. Gorgeous tone. It is almost as rich as a concert grand pedal harp yet has lightness in the treble. I had performed on a Teifi in Kent six years ago for the London area clarsach society’s retreat. Anne Chorley with the clarsach society not only organised the workshop and picked me up from the train, but gave me a list of harpists and builders I should visit as we cycle to Wales and Ireland. Thank you Anne! And, special thanks to Danielle Perrett for all her help behind the scenes and beyond with the harp society in England. I value the friendships of my harp colleagues and am always eager to meet more people who share my passion for the harp.

Susan Berry and me
 The first harpist on our 'harpists possibly en route' list was Susan Berry. Susan had started a local clarsach group several years ago that meets in Llandysul, where the Teifi harps are built. We thought that we would swing by Sue’s home and have a cup of tea with a local harpist en route to Teifi harps.

It took us longer than we thought to summit those Welsh hills and arrived mid-afternoon at the home of Susan Berry and her family. Tea soon turned into a bottle of wine, dinner and the offer of a soft bed. I love being part of the greater harp community!

 It was the next afternoon before we biked into Llandysul (pronounced ‘clandy-sul’). It’s a quaint old village nestled in the centre of Western Wales along the banks of the Teifi River. Telynau Teifi harps are built in a Victorian schoolhouse converted into several workshop rooms, a showroom and office. One of the harp world’s best kept secrets, Teifi harps are world class.

We need to help them break into the American market so more harpists can enjoy playing these fine harps. Did I mention the gorgeous tone!  And, they build lever and pedal harps. The levers, metal work and woodwork are all manufactured in the same building. Nothing is imported, down to the smallest pin.

Another plus is that Teifi harps is a Social Enterprise. They are consciously building skills and jobs for the next generation and involved in the local community.  They “Involve our local schools by providing work experience to both pupils and teachers and provide recording facilities for their exams, and involve members of the local Stroke Association with work-based rehabilitation.”  The founder, Allan Sheirs gave us a personal tour even though we just popped in unexpected. It doesn’t surprise me that beautiful harps are built in picturesque locations. Check out this socially responsible company at: https://teifiharps.com/.

 I know that these blog posts are starting to sound like adverts, but visiting harp builders has been so inspiring. I’ve always been more interested in the music that is made with harps and less interested in the wood, carvings, colors and builders. I’m now fascinated by little tech details. Maybe I’m not such a luddite!

Allan Sheirs, founder of Teifi Harps