Mary Louise is a musician and musicologist who has performed extensively throughout Ireland, Europe, Africa and Asia as a soloist and with various ensembles. She began her Irish harp studies with the late Sr Eugene McCabe and later studied pedal harp with the celebrated French harpist Sebastian Lipman. She has always been fascinated with the history of harps (of various kinds) and the intriguing figures that play them. Consequently, she has tried to balance a busy performing career with her passion for research and scholarship. She was awarded a doctorate by the University of Limerick in 2009 and, since then, has published widely on topics relating to Irish cultural history, semiotics and performance studies. Her first book, Ireland’s Harp: The Shaping of Irish Identity c. 1770-1880, was published in 2014 by UCD Press. Mary Louise has received many awards and grants to further her research, including an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, Fulbright Scholarship, Centre Culturel Irlandais Fellowship and a Dobbin Scholarship (Ireland Canada University Foundation).
In 2019, she was appointed Musician-in-Residence with Fingal County Council and in 2020, was awarded a bursary by Fingal Arts Office to commission Rhona Clarke to compose a new work for voice/harp; Music, Stars & Atoms will be premiered in 2021. Mary Louise frequently collaborates with her sister Teresa and they released an album entitled ‘Heavenly harps, heavenly cloths: contemporary music for the Irish harp by Brian Boydell’ in December 2020.