In ancient Ireland the systems of law, medicine, poetry, and music, according to Keating, "were set to music, being poetical compositions." Vallancey tells us that the bards, specially selected from amongst noble youths of conspicuous stature and beauty, "had a distinctive dress of five colours, and wore a white mantle and a blue cap ornamented with a gold crescent." The curriculum for an ollamh (bard) extended to twelve years and more, at the expiration of which he was given the doctor's cap, that is, the barréd, and the title of ollamh.

  • Cormac Mac Art, Ard Righ [Head King] of Ireland (A.D. 254-277), had a chief bard and musicians
  • The Bards were poets, not musicians
  • They were a literary people long before the coming of St. Patrick
  • The invented the earliest form of musical tabulature (Oghams)
  • The Greek Harp was introduced to Ireland by the Melisians, 
  • They played 9 musical instruments (sic)
  • They sang songs worshipping Apollo, played on the harp
  • They demonstrated the first certain examples of rhyme
  • They had the Diatonic scale

Irish psalmody and hymnody were distinctly Celtic in the first half of the seventh century, and were mainly "adaptations" of the old Irish pre-Christian melodies.

The very word ogham suggests at once a musical signification, and, therefore, it is of the very highest importance to claim for Ireland the earliest form of musical tablature.