Borrowed from Scottish Gaelic clàrsach (“harp”) by the 1810s, possibly from clàr (“board, plank; table”), ultimately from Proto-Celtic *klāros, *klārom (“table”). The word is cognate with Irish cláirseach, Old Irish cláirsech (“harp”).
clarsach (plural clarsachs)
- (music) A small triangular wire-strung harp of Gaelic origin; a Celtic harp.
- Synonym: Gaelic harp
- 1810, Thomas Campbell, “O’Connor's Child, or, The Flower of Love Lies Bleeding”, in The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell. […], Baltimore, Md., stanza VIII, page 209:
- And I, beside the lake of swans, / Shall hunt for thee the fallow deer; / And build thy hut and bring thee home / The wild fowl, and the honey-comb; / And berries from the wood provide, / And play my clarshech by thy side.
- 1819, Jedadiah Cleishbotham [pseudonym; Walter Scott], chapter VI, in Tales of My Landlord, Third Series. [...] In Four Volumes, volume III (A Legend of Montrose), Edinburgh: Printed [by James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, […]; Hurst, Robinson, and Co. […], OCLC 277985465, page 274:
- [S]he sate down at a little distance upon the bench on which Allan M‘Aulay was placed, and tuning her clairshach, a small harp, about thirty inches in height, she accompanied it with her voice.
- 1819, Jedadiah Cleishbotham [pseudonym; Walter Scott], chapter V, in Tales of My Landlord, Third Series. [...] In Four Volumes, volume IV (A Legend of Montrose), Edinburgh: Printed [by James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, […]; Hurst, Robinson, and Co. […], OCLC 277985465, page 306:
- He is particularly delighted by her skill in music, which is so exquisite, that she far exceeds the best performers in this country in playing on the clashach or harp.
- 1876 July, “Gaelic Songs”, in Alexander Mackenzie and Alexander Macgregor, editors, The Celtic Magazine: A Monthly Periodical Devoted to the Literature, History, Antiquities, Folk Lore, Traditions, and the Social and Material Interests of the Celt at Home and Abroad, volume I, number IX, Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie, […]; Edinburgh: J. Menzies & Co., and Maclauchlan & Stewart; Glasgow: William Love, OCLC 7907922, page 295:
- They [the country people] preferred the sprightly springs of the fiddle when intent on the dance; or if pouring forth the sweet melody of the song, their choice accompaniment was unquestionably the clarsach (harp).
- 1899, Fiona Macleod [pseudonym; William Sharp], “Honey of the Wild Bees”, in The Dominion of Dreams, Westminster, London: Archibald Constable and Co., OCLC 752663996; 5th edition, Westminster, London: Archbald Constable and Co., […], 1899, OCLC 363831418, page 248:
- After long thought, he took his clàrsach and went up through the ancient forest and out upon the desert of the great mountain which towers above all others in Emhain Abhlach. He played gently upon his clàrsach as he went, so that no wild thing molested him.
- 1986, Emily Ann Donaldson, The Scottish Highland Games in America, Gretna, New Orleans, La.: Firebird Press, Pelican Publishing Company, →ISBN, pages 196–197:
- [T]here are two examples of the earliest clarsachs in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland. The Caledonian or Lamont harp is believed to date back to 1464, and the Queen Mary harp dates back to about 1564. Mary Queen of Scots was an ardent clarsach player, as was King James I. The clarsach was popular in Scotland until the middle of the eighteenth century, when the destruction of the clan system had its concurrent effect on this instrument. It was not until the 1890s that the clarsach was heard from again.
- clareschaw, clerschew (obsolete, 15th c.), clersha (obsolete, 17th c.), clarishoe (obsolete, 18th c.), clairschach, clairshach, clashach (obsolete)