So. Who IS Éiden?
Well, almost 16 years ago, I got a notion in my head that I wanted a harp.
I’d been repeat-marathon-reading BJ Hoff’s Emerald Ballad series and had a crush on Morgan Fitzgerald. Like, HUGE crush. Like, who wouldn’t have a crush on this giant of a man, with hands like dinner plates, who ducks to enter a door, with wild red hair and a harp slung over his shoulder? The poet, the dreamer, the volatile… Morgan Fitzgerald.
*cough* Moving on.
So, being the ripe mature age of 15 at the time, and completely ignorant of most everything, I proceeded to do a lot of research. This involved writing to a couple of harp places and becoming dismayed when I discovered that we were looking at a couple grand to fulfil my harp dreams. Therefore I was delighted to learn that a company called Song of the Sea, located in Maine, had a harp for sale for around $350. It had full levers, a case, 22 strings. It sounded like a great deal. It was called the Heather Harp.
It was so PURTY. It was “rosewood and mahogany”! Carved soundbox! Celtic knotwork! SO IRISH AHHHHHHHH. I named it after Morgan’s first love, Ireland, his Dark Rosaleen: Roisìn Dubh. (I learned a smattering of Gaelic from the Emerald Ballad series, see.) (It’s pronounced “ro-SHEEN”, in case you wondered.)
So, I paid the $350 (I think that’s what it cost then) that I had saved up by asking my relatives to donate to a worthy cause rather than buy me Christmas gifts. My Heather Harp arrived in the mail and I took it out of the box and ran my fingers over the strings.
Instant dreamy movie scene, right?
Wrong. Unless you want to call it “Serenade of the Rubber Bands”. I was, admittedly, shocked. But, apparently they didn’t tune to ship for fear of string breakage. I got out my new tuner and set to work tuning up according to the instructions. Before long I was playing stuff. Roisìn stood in a place of honour on my desk, with my Beanie Babies sitting in a line along the top. Somewhere there’s a picture of it.
Right here I want to interject a comment about MidEast Manufacturing’s harps (or harp-shaped objects, as they are sometimes called.) They are of inferior quality. The levers are pretty much useless. But I have had Roisìn over 15 years and I can count on one hand the strings that have broken. Aside from the crack you’ll be reading about in the upcoming paragraphs, she has been a good harp. She holds tune well and is light and easily portable. If you’re starting out and don’t know whether you’ll even stick with it, why pay more? I will never buy another one, but I do not regret my purchase one bit.
Anyway, a little crack started to appear down the centre of the soundboard. I had read it was normal for them to crack a little so I wasn’t concerned particularly. But time went on, and drama happened – hey, maybe I could be Finola after all! – and fast forward 15 years to last fall when I finally got strong-armed into playing in public for the first time, after pretty much not doing anything with the harp for a number of years.
The soundboard crack was looking pretty bad.
So, it was time for a new harp. I shopped around. Internet made research a lot easier and experience has made me less swayed by carved soundboards and Celtic knots, and more interested in quality, even if it does cost upwards of $2000. I found what I wanted, but it was going to cost $2663.
I sold my violin, I had a yard sale, I’d have sold my wedding ring if I could have found it. I started the year with under $50 for the harp fund. But thanks to some kind and interested parties who drummed up interest in my favour, and a loan from a friend who UNDERSTANDS about Morgan Fitzgerald, I finally had enough for my new wooden baby.
I named her Éiden. My delight. (It’s pronounced just like in English: Eden.)
And here she is:
Thank you, Blevins Harps, for a wonderful piece of work that I know I can enjoy for years to come. 😀