Turlough O'Carolan was a harpist and composer, born in 1670 to a poor family in County Meath in Ireland. When he was just eighteen years old, he was blinded by smallpox and took up playing the harp, making his living as an itinerant musician. Wealthy patrons would provide for his needs, and in return he would write tunes and often words to accompany those tunes. The names of the patrons or their relatives are often reflected in the titles of the tunes. Before he died in 1738 he had composed well over 200 tunes. O'Sullivan's definitive work, Carolan: The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper from 1958, contains 214 tunes.
(image: Statue of Turlough O’Carolan, Mohill, Co. Leitrim, Republic of Ireland.)