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Elly and Nancy Fithian


Elly and daughter Nancy in Ireland


Celtic art by Elly Fithian


Shirley Starke with Bardic harp


Shirley with the Bardic harp she built




Harp by Elly Fithian




Harp by Elly Fithian


About the Artist


Elly Fithian has felt attracted to Ireland for many years, and she and her daughter Nancy have visited there three times so far. They both love the traditional music, the ancient dolmens and ruins, the fairy lore, the charming people and beautiful scenery, and the Celtic designs which inspire Elly in her art.


Elly first met Shirley in 1981 through the Irish Special Interest Group of American Mensa. They have collaborated on three books, and Elly has illustrated sheet music in the Christmas Carols and Old Hymns series and the Black Bull of Norroway.


Elly lives in Buena Vista, Colorado, where she is a secretary in a lawyer’s office. She is divorced and has three grown children, and lives with her menagerie of four cats, four snakes, and two goldfish.


About the Composer


Shirley Starke has played the harp since 1980. She is also proficient on the guitar (which she has taught) and piano; her music education began in childhood with a piano teacher who emphasized music theory, including the medieval modes (scales) which Shirley uses extensively in her composing.


Shirley has written music all her life: she has composed more than 400 songs, of which about 120 have been published. Although primarily a composer and arranger, she also teaches the harp and performs for weddings and other events. She is listed as a harpist and composer in the 2012 edition of Who's Who In America.


Shirley founded the Irish Special Interest Group of American Mensa and is newsletter editor, testing coordinator, and webmaster of North Dakota Mensa. She is involved in politics as executive director of North Dakotans for Term Limits and archivist of the Initiative and Referendum Institute. She lives in Valley City, North Dakota, where she is an active member of St. Catherine’s Church as a reader, musician, and choir member, and is an associate member of the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation.



Celtic Chronicles, Fall 2000



Once Upon the End of Day

Song lyrics from Voices of the Trees


Dakota Lullaby

Hear music and read lyrics

“Sleep and rest on my breast,

Little love and my treasure…”


The Breath of Your Soul

Hear music and read lyrics

“But the sound of your voice

Filled me with joy,

For the breath of your soul

Was starlight and fire.”


White Hemlocks, Yellow Violets

Hear music and read lyrics

“White moonlight, yellow lamplight, and the green light of leaves,

And the morning, and the evening, and a heart that never grieves.”


A Glove on Your Hand

Hear music and read lyrics

“Let me be like a glove on Your hand.

Let me be like a harp that You are playing.”


The Pity of Love, W.B. Yeats

Hear music and read lyrics

“A pity beyond all telling

Is hid in the heart of love.”


Your Song Before the World Began

Illustration by Yolanda Burke




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