An Tiompan Gàidhealach

The tiompán (Irish) or tiompan (Scottish Gaelic) was a stringed musical instrument[1] used by the Gaelic musicians of Ireland and Scotland and probably therefore the Isle of Man.

The word 'timpán' was of both masculine and feminine gender in classical Irish. It is theorised to derive from the Latin word 'tympanum' (tambourine or kettle drum) and 'timpán' does appear to be used in certain ancient texts to describe a drum.

The adjective 'timpánach' referred to a performer on the instrument but is also recorded in one instance in the Dánta Grádha as describing a cruit. The feminine noun 'timpánacht' referred to the art or practice of playing the tiompán.

In modern Irish traditional music, the word tiompan was used by Derek Bell, after Francis William Galpin's theories, to refer to the hammered dulcimer.

Recorded players included Maol Ruanaidh Cam Ó Cearbhaill (murdered 1329). Finn Ó Haughluinn (died 1490) was the last recorded player of the instrument.


  1. Ann Buckley, What was the Tiompán? A problem in ethnohistorical organology. Evidence in Irish literature, p. 53-88, Jahrbuch fur Musikalische Volks - und Völkerkunde, ix, 1978.
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