Limerick harpist hopes to hit high notes on Kilimanjaro

Siobhan Brady playing her harp in the Himalayas in 2018.

A LIMERICK woman is hoping to improve on her Guinness World Record by harping on from a great height in Africa.

Siobhan Brady from Castletroy currently holds the record for the highest harp concert ever played.

This July, she will look to take the record a few steps further when she climbs Mount Kilimanjaro with a team to perform in aid of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland (CFI).

Siobhan told the Limerick Post that she got involved when pianist Desmond Gentle approached her in London and asked her to accompany him on his world record attempt to perform the highest piano concert on the summit of Singla Pass in the Himalayas in India.

“We agreed because he said the piano could be easily damaged in transit because they were bringing it from London to Leh, up in Northern India,” she explained.

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“The harp is much more portable so if something happens to the piano we can still have a concert.”

“Because we could carry the harp, we ended up going even higher than the piano did. So when we came back down, Desmond said he wanted to do it again, but bigger and better and raise more money. So he wanted to do it on Kilimanjaro.”

However, shortly after their first climb, Gentle passed away. It is believed he suffered a blood clot after the journey due to the extreme altitudes.

Now, this July, the Highest Harp Concert will be performed in his memory, as well as in an effort to raise money for CFI.

Siobhan said: “This time it’s for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland because when you’re at such a high altitude you find it hard to breathe and so it gives you a bit of sympathy for what people with cystic fibrosis have to deal with every day.”

“We’re have a woman – Caroline Heffernan – coming up with us who actually has cystic fibrosis. She’s our superwoman.”

Preparations for the climb are well underway, with the team taking part in altitude training, as well as doing monthly hikes for the past year and a half.

Despite the intense training, Siobhan said she is excited for the climb.

“I think it’s a bit like childbirth. You know, when you tell people you’re doing it they’re like ‘I know this person who did it’ and they tell me really horrible stories about people who’ve done Kilimanjaro, but I’m excited.

“We’re going up with Pat Falvey, he’s done the Seven Summits twice and he’s done Kilimanjaro about 80 times so he’s very experienced,” Siobhan concluded.

The group aim to raise over €100,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland. Anyone who wants to donate to the Highest Harp Concert can do so here