>I've lent my copy of Breathnach's book to a friend, so
>I don't know exactly what he said about the tiompa/n
Here's the relevant passage, without comment as I don't
know enough about the subject:
"...the 'cruit' or harp enjoyed pride of place [in ancient
Ireland]. In fact its music was the only kind that ennnobled
a person in its own right. Frequently associated with the
'cruit' was the 'timpa/n', which from its name one might
suppose to be a tambourine or percussion instrument.
(The Latin 'tympanum' signifies a drum or tambourine.)
The Irish 'timpa/n' was, in fact, a stringed instrument
which was sounded with a bow. The performer on the
'timpa/n' is mentioned in the ancient poem describing the
Fair of Carman which is found in the 'Book of Leinster',
a manuscript poem written about 1160. Fiddles, 'fidle',
are also mentioned in this poem, but while the term in
all probability refers to a stringed instrument played with
a bow, it was not, of course, the modern violin, which
was developed in its present form in Italy only in the
second half of the sixteenth century."
(Breanda/n Breathnach, "Folk Music and Dances of
Ireland", 1977 edition, p.6).
There follows a description, too long to quote here, of
the various wind instruments in use in ancient Ireland.