Turlough O'Carolan was a blind Irish harper who lived from 1670-1738. He composed over 200 tunes and I have transposed all of them to open tunings in TablEdit format. A few tunes are frankly not very good (to my ear) and although I have included these I have not offered very sophisticated arrangements. Most however are little gems.

You can find midi files of Carolan's tunes on dozens of sites around the web - my site goes further and offers an open tuning, suitable to the original key wherever possible, and a fingering pattern aimed at maximising the 'ringing notes' and drones which open tunings make possible. Whatever your current playing ability, these arangements will challenge you to reach a new level.

On the next few pages tunes from the O'Sullivan and O'Neill collections which I have arranged are marked with a green background. The list is now complete (after about 2 years' work). You are welcome to download any arrangement and try it out - all I ask is an acknowledgement as arranger if you record it - please email me to report back what you think. The tunes should keep your fingers and your brain stretched!

You should also see my TablEdit Advice page and my Open Tunings page.


There are 2 main collections of Carolan's tunes - one is by Donal O'Sullivan and the other by Captain Francis O'Neill.

O'Sullivan collection
More than 200 tunes catalogued by Donal O'Sullivan

O'Neill collection
Rather fewer tunes collected by Captain Francis O'Neill

My Tabledit files give suggested fingerings to make best use of the ringing open strings available in the open tunings given.

I have created an Excel spreadsheet linked to a folder of all the Carolan tunes.
This lets you filter all tunes in 3/4 time say; or all tunes in an Open C tuning; or all tunes in the key of G; etc

Click here for an example of the way it works.You can get a free copy in return for a little charity work - click here for details.

These tunes follow the numbering convention given in the 'bible' for Carolan tunes:

Donal O'Sullivan - CAROLAN: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper

(follow the link then click on Books, Artworks , etc)

Ossian Publications 1958/2001 ISBN: 1 900428 71 7

See also:

Carolan Project (O'Neill Tunes)


Lesley Nelson's Contemplator pages about Carolan's life and music. The Irish Pages Carolan Midi page - all of Carolan's tunes as midi files along with interesting notes about the songs and people. Ancient Anonymous Airs - a range of tunes and harpists pre-dating Carolan. Some of the tunes wrongly attributed to Carolan by O'Neill are correctly attributed here. Glenn Weiser's pages have extensive advice and links for Celtic guitar music Keith Hinchliffe sparked my interest in Carolan tunes and taught me several new open tunings.