Forum: Irish / Irish

Rare / Lost Céilí Dances
By Festivaldancer1
On Fri Dec 06, 2013 02:31 AM

Hi everyone! I was recently wondering if anyone knew of any other céilí dances that don't appear in An Rincí Fóirne? My teacher teaches us one called the Castle Lack Reel (don't ask me how to dance it, I ALWAYS rely on her calling it haha), and as well as that I discovered a book in my university library by Patricia Mulholland (founder of the Festival style of Irish dancing - my style) which details dances such as the Flax Flower and the Ulster Tartan.

Anyone else know of any others that maybe were vetoed by the Gaelic League/Dancing Commission in the creation of An Rincí Fóirne?

10 Replies to Rare / Lost Céilí Dances

re: Rare / Lost Céilí Dances
By Teasharkmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Dec 06, 2013 03:37 AM
I'm currently writing an essay on this topic, about the influence of the Gaelic League on Irish Dance, so I can get back to you when I finish my research next week.

Kind regards,

re: Rare / Lost Ceili­ Dances
By AutumnLily
On Fri Dec 06, 2013 04:52 AM
some time ago someone posted this link here: . . .

There are described figures, diferent parts of body and there are also some ceili dances.
re: Rare / Lost Céilí Dances
By tinydancer1988
On Wed Dec 11, 2013 07:37 AM
I don't know if they would be considered "lost" ceili dances, but because they weren't chosen as part of the current "competitive irish dance curriculum" as chosen by The Gaelic League, they have fallen out of favor.

Irish dance history is really interesting, and you can get a lot of information about the formation of An Coimisiun and pre-riverdance irish dance from this article: . . .
re: Rare / Lost CÃ���Ã��Ã�©ilÃ���Ã��Ã
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Dec 11, 2013 07:44 AM
Edited by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2013-12-11 07:45:13
Edited by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2013-12-11 07:46:39
Edited by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2013-12-11 07:51:35
My teacher will do the "Siamsa Beirte" (I think I'm getting the spelling right) in our ceili class (also known as "The Sheepherder" to the non-Irish speakers), which is a two-person dance that's performed in long line of couples and is done to a hornpipe/polka. Edit: look, I found a video!

There's also a dance that gets thrown around called Shoe the Donkey though I've never done it and don't know what it looks like!
re: Rare / Lost
By StepdancerPremium member
On Wed Dec 11, 2013 06:11 PM
Edited by Stepdancer (168956) on 2013-12-11 18:12:20
Edited by Stepdancer (168956) on 2013-12-11 18:13:54
We used to do Shoe the Donkey. We did this version: . . .

"Round The House" has been mentioned many times, and that's not in the book(s). We don't dance that one in my city, but someone here will know how it goes.

The Siamsa Beirte is pretty much the same dance we were taught by a visiting dancer from Ireland, who just called it a 2-hand hornpipe. I've always liked that dance, and I still teach it to my students. I'll have to tell them it has a name! I like "Siamsa Beirte" much better than "2-hand hornpipe".
re: Rare / Lost Céilí Dances
By PogMoGilliesmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Dec 11, 2013 09:11 PM
I only know the simplified round the house that we do for shows. Here I'm dancing it with my 2 year old! . . .
re: Rare / Lost Céilí Dances (karma: 2)
By Teasharkmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Dec 15, 2013 03:43 AM
in our figure dance class at University, we've done the following dances that are not ceili dances from the CLRG book (I'm at the Uni of LImerick, studying Irish Music and Dance):

- Pride of Erin Waltz
- Stacks of Barley
- Shoe the Donkey

The thing to remember about Céilí dances are, that they are what were condoned by the people on the Commission of Irish Dance when the books were written in 1939, 19?? and 1969. A lot of known figuredances were left out entirely.

The Céilí dances that are danced today at Céilí event can be divided roughly into three categories:

- Kerry figure dances, can be recognized by their structure of Lead Around, Body and Figures. Mostly for couples in a square formation, be it 4 or 8 dancers. Examples are High Cauled Cap and 4-hand reel.
- South Armagh dances, that can be recognized by distinctive music. For example Sweets of May and Three Tunes.
- Country dances danced in lines or a circle.

I'll get round to writing a longer post on the history of and invention of the Céili dancing. The first Céilí was held in London in 1897 by the London Branch of the Gaelic League, and was only later imported to Ireland. The dances were Irish, as the teacher in London was from Kerry. The dances were polished and made suitable for the ballroom, all trebling and shuffling was left out (for example there is a version of the Humours of Bandon where there are trebles instead for Rising Step).

Dr. John Cullinane has published several EXCELLENT books on this topic: The history of Ceili dancing, The history of Irish dancing.

Dr. Catherine Foley's newest book is also very good, published in 2013

Helen Brennan has a book titled Story of Irish Dance that goes through the entire history of Irish dancing, it is a very interesting and entertaining read!

Kind regards,

TeaShark on Christmas Holiday at Home in Finland
re: Rare / Lost Céilí Dances
By tinydancer1988
On Thu Dec 26, 2013 07:28 AM
We did the Walls of Limerick at the beginning and end of every dance class when I was a kid- I will never, ever forget that dance after doing it approx 209578235 times, lol.

I also remember doing the Seige of Ennis and The Bonfire dance at a few weddings and parties and things.

I found the PDF of 30 popular ceili dances! There's a few larger group dances and circle dances that I have definitely never done before: . . .

And here's a really neat old book on the history of Irish dances- I think it's from around the turn of the century: . . .

I know what I'll be reading today... XD
re: Rare / Lost Céilí Dances
By NoraStewart
On Sat Dec 28, 2013 05:06 AM
"Around the house" is also a standard figure move in Irish set dancing - 4 couples dancing / rotating all the way around the circle/ set. Seems a bit sad to me that all the styles of Irish dancing are so separate and that people don't have much knowledge across the styles, of which there are at least 5.
re: Rare / Lost Céilí Dances
By Festivaldancer1
On Thu Jan 09, 2014 07:03 AM
Wow guys, thanks for all the information, it's all so interesting! Especially that old book about Irish Dancing! It's so weird that our artform is so fractured - obviously coming from a Festival dancing background my form of Irish dancing is a breakaway tradition from An Comisiún, but it's amazing to think that what we think of as unequivocally being "Irish" dancing was vetted from the very beginning of the Irish state!


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