In about 1819, John Egan invented the 'Royal Portable' harp, which was made up of a hollow column at the front and a rounded resonator at the back, to project the sound. Instead of using pedals, Egan introduced hand-operated levers so as to produce sharps and flats, but he claimed that this instrument was suitable for all types of harp music. This light and portable version of the harp was comparatively easy to play, and enjoyed great popularity during the 1820s.

John Egan was active in Dublin between about 1804 and 1841 and advertised himself in 1822 as 'Portable Harp maker to the King'. During the early 1800s, harp playing enjoyed a revival in Ireland, and harp societies were established in Belfast in 1809 and in Dublin in 1810.