Denis O'Hampsey was born in 1695 in Craigmore, near Garvaghian County Derry. However both his father,Bryan Darrogher O'Hampsey and his mother both had large land holdings in the Magilligan, about 10-15 miles north-west, where Denis eventually settled. At the age of only 3, he lost his sight as a result of smallpox. Even with his handicap, Denis started to learn how to play the harp at the age of 12 with the 1st of for different teachers. His first teacher was Bridget O'Cahan. After her came John C. Garragher, then Loughlin Fanning and finally Patrick Conner.
6 years later, a Counceller Canning in Garvagh bout him what we know today as the 'downhill harp'. This very harp is owned and displayed by the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.
At the age on 92, Denis O'Hampsey was the only harper who still employed the traditional fingernail techniques that gave the Gaelic harp it's full range of expression.
Denis traveled extensively right throughout Ireland and Scotland, playing before Prince Charles Stewart in 1747.
Denis O'Hampsey died in Magilligan in 1807.