Handel's visit to Ireland is absolutely intriguing as to why Handel went there when he did, what else was performed apart from Messiah, who did he work with and what did he do there?
These questions are especially poignant as Ireland had just suffered from the Great Frost and devastating famine of 1740 which resulted in the death of over 38%of the Irish population. This famine was significantly worse than the potato famine of the late 1840s, but less is spoken about it.
It is unclear whether William Cavendish the 3rd Duke of Devonshire, Viceroy and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, officially invited Handel to visit Ireland as there is no record of it in Devonshire's papers at Chatsworth or in Wilmot's papers or indeed in the surviving newspapers such as the Dublin Gazette. We also have no evidence that Devonshire knew Handel prior to this visit as he did not subscribe to Handel's operas in London.
Although the Duke of Devonshire was not in Ireland for the famous premiere of Messiah either, various poets still attributed an honorary invitation from him to Handel on his arrival at the Hibernian shore;
'Thus Devonshire, our Sorrows to allay, Invites the Nation to hear Handel play; Soon as his Grace appear’d on Irish Ground; Our two Year’s Famine were in Lethe drown’d'
Laurence Whyte, 1742
New harpsichord CD shares the story Handel in Ireland Vol.1 Vol.2 ...coming soon... orchestral music from Ireland
Wonderful to celebrate European Day of Early Music! 🎶 Such an honour to perform and cherish early music and hear so many fantastic recordings today of many friends and esteemed musicians and singers.
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