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A tale of two Eleanors

Eleanor who? Rigby, right?

Especially after Sir Paul McCartney’s New Yorker article about how he wrote the lyrics?

You might think so. After all, I’m a Boomer who was just barely old enough to be a Beatles fan. I even had a rocking horse named Ringo.

Later, I grew up listening to the Fab Four in their various solo projects, but The Beatles always stayed with me. The Red and Blue albums on cassettes. Beatlemania on national tour. Sgt. Pepper’s and Abbey Road LPs at my local library. The December 8 news about John at the Dakota, from my local Top 40 radio station (WLS 89 AM Chicago).

So, yes, Eleanor Rigby comes to mind. But there’s another Eleanor—and she’s my harp BFF.

The same summer that I started harp lessons at Penn State, one of my first music purchases was Sylvia Woods’ collection of Turlough O’Carolan arrangements. (Remember “the purple book?” Mine finally fell apart. I moved over to a PDF version for my iPad Pro.)

From that book, my teacher and I chose Eleanor Plunkett—my first O’Carolan tune (and first Irish tune). Unlike Eleanor Rigby, Eleanor Plunkett was a real person, and O’Carolan wrote tunes for her and her family in County Meath, Ireland.

Since then, I’ve played Eleanor Plunkett on pedal and lever harps of all sizes, including double-strung harp since 1992, at concerts, weddings, and everything in between. “She” became the lead-off tune in my O’Carolan set in this performance video

And now, Eleanor has a honored place in my own book of O’Carolan arrangements for double-strung harp—published and available for orders starting today!

Thanks, Eleanor. To both of you, actually.

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