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Looking for This or Something Similar by ShineBallerina
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkUd8mio5XY Looking for this costume or something similar does anyone know where it's from?






Forum: Irish / Irish - Hardshoe

Irish - Hardshoe
What does the name of my set dance mean? (karma: 4)  en>fr fr>en
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17046, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Sat Aug 07, 2010 03:14 PM
Edited by Louise (29559) on 2010-08-07 15:14:49
Edited by Louise (29559) on 2010-08-07 15:24:38

After reading and replying to a fun thread on the American Voy I thought it'd be fun to collect the stories behind each set dance tune - and maybe some ceili names as well. Here are the ones I know - I've left out the more obvious ones like the Blackbird - if you can fill in the others, chime in!

The Ace and Deuce of Pipering - this is the olden-days version of the rap battle I think. If you're the 'ace' of something, you're the best at it, while the 'deuce' is a close second.

The Blackthorn Stick - the blackthorn is a medium-sized shrub native to Europe, whose berries are used to make sloe gin. Its smaller branches were often used to make walking sticks or 'beaters', which were used to clear scrub when hunting or to disturb game birds from trees, ready for shooting.

The Blue Eyed Rascal - clearly some dashing young soul that stole the virtue of many a young maiden! Although I prefer a brooding brown eye myself...

Bonaparte's Retreat - one of the many tunes named after current events of two to three hundred years ago. Here's a bit about the man himself.

The Downfall of Paris - safe guess that this is about the French Revolution. In order to keep their students interested, dance masters of the 18th and 19th centuries would often adapt the fashionable English and French court dances of the day, substituting walking and skipping for the Irish threes and sevens that we recognise today. Mr Darcy asks Eliza to join him in dancing a reel - and if you watch adaptations of books like Pride and Prejudice, many of the dances do seem to fit with plenty of ceili dances, particularly long dances.

The Drunken Gauger - before optics were invented, pubs would keep their spirits in barrels behind the bar, which were equipped with a little tap on the front for ease of pouring. It was up to the barman or his assistant to "gauge" the amount of spirit poured into the glass, to ensure it corresponded with the order (large whiskey please! Small gin please!) The implication here is that the unscrupulous barman would sneak a cheeky sip before passing the drink to his punter, therefore becoming the Drunken Gauger. This one also used to be known as "The Funny Tailor", although I couldn't elaborate on that one. Perhaps he was drunk and couldn't keep his seams in line, therefore making impossible-to-wear or "funny" suits. Funny strange rather than funny haha, I guess.

Fiddler Round the Fairy Tree - Here's a nice story from www.derryghosts.com . . ....
Near the rim of a small disused quarry on the Inis Eoghan peninsula there grew a tree. Successive owners of the land knew this to be a ‘fairy tree’. It was a superstition that if one interfered with such a tree then bad luck would follow because this was the home of the ‘little people’.

This tree was left to grow undisturbed by the ploughing and planting around it. It spread and grew gnarled and twisted. One spring, the new owner damaged the blade of his plough on the root of the fairy tree and he ordered his farm hand to cut it down. The farm hand refused, explaining that he did not want bad luck to befall him. In a fit of rage and to show that he did not believe the superstition the farmer cut the tree down and threw it into the quarry.

The farm prospered but illness, accidents, deaths and other bad luck followed the family until each member had his or her share of it.
Eventually the farm was sold and the new owner, knowing the history, planted a new tree where the old one had grown. As the tree grew so did their good fortune.

The family are still settled happily on the farm although no one seems to know what became of the previous owner.

So your fairy tree is the home of the little people, and presumably the fiddler is hoping to curry favour with them.

The Four Masters - we've all heard of the dance masters, travelling from village to village to teach dancing and battling with their rivals whenever they met, often until one passed out of exhaustion. They're where we get our white socks, black shoes and buckles from (as per the fashions of the day) so it's fairly safe to assume that the Four Masters accounts for a four-way dance battle.

The Garden of Daisies - I've heard that this is simply a mispelling of "An Deise", which is a nickname for the county of Waterford.

The Humours of Bandon - the four humours (choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic and sanguine) are also colloquially known as the four temperaments. So, the humours of Bandon (a place in Cork) may have been four young men of various different temperaments, hailing from Bandon.

The Hurling Boys - participants of the popular Irish sport.

Hurry the Jug - another drinking reference no doubt!

Is the Big Man Within? - 'big man' is a pretty common term for describing a stout or portly fellow. I'm assuming his mates came calling for him, and asked his Mrs if their friend was home.

Job of Journeywork - a journeyman is a craftsman skilled trader (e.g. butcher) who has completed his apprenticeship and would have been considered a professional. So the work of a journeyman could be considered his journeywork, and perhaps that is where the tune comes from - a lament about the daily grind. The olden-days equivalent of Dolly Parton's classic.

Madame Bonaparte - see above.

The Orange Rogue - the Orangemen are a Protestant group in Northern Ireland. The less said about that the better I guess, in the spirit of remaining friendly and whatnot.

Planxties - Planxty is the Anglicisation of plancstai, which roughly translates to "good health to you". The Davis and Drury tunes are often accredited to harpist Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738) or his contemporaries, so these are probably among the oldest tunes. Trivia: O'Carolan was blind.

The Rambling Rake - nothing to do with gardening. In the olden days, a 'rake' was a cad and a bounder - what we might call a 'player' in today's vernacular. So, perhaps with his wingman The Blue Eyed Rascal, the Rambling Rake travelled from place to place, collecting maidenhoods as he went. Ooh err.

The Roving Pedlar - a pedlar would be a salesman, peddling his wares. So a roving pedlar would be a travelling salesman, probably double-glazing or loft insulation.

Rub the Bag - this one's to do with the Uillean [elbow] pipes. Similar to Scottish bagpipes, the uillean pipes are played by blowing air into a large bag and regulating it out of the pipes with flute-like fingerholes. Musicians would rub a conditioning ointment into their bags, to keep them in good repair and fit for playing. I'm always reminded of a quote from Davy Spillane, the piper from Riverdance. The conductor counts down from five and says "commence the air!". Davy looks at the camera and smiles, saying "I actually just authorise the air. That's all I do", which is a pretty cool way to sum up such a difficult discipline as piping.

The Sprig of Shillelagh - the shillelagh is an Irish fighting stick, also made from blackthorn (see above). Just a guess, but perhaps this set dance refers to a shillelagh sprouting a new growth, or a shrub itself sprouting a new branch which will become a shillelagh. Shillelagh as a word is subject to many a joke in Ireland the UK, mainly centred on it's pronunciation and whether it's a metaphor for a gentleman's private area or not.

The White Blanket - my first teacher told me that this is based on the women of Cork going down to the beaches and waving their bedsheets from shore, to guide in their husbands' fishing boats in poor weather.

10 Replies to What does the name of my set dance mean?

re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By reel_faerie85member has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4076, member since Mon Mar 08, 2010
On Sat Aug 07, 2010 05:26 PM
wow thats good! i am sure if we all looked a bit closer there are many theories as to where the names and dances themselves came from
re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By rainbow_rawr Comments: 642, member since Wed Mar 11, 2009
On Sat Aug 07, 2010 05:41 PM
This should be a sticky!
re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By dancer4life77 Comments: 229, member since Wed Jul 14, 2010
On Sat Aug 07, 2010 05:52 PM
I agree this should be a sticky! That's really very interesting. My set is Madame Bonaparte (which is my FAVORITE dance) and when I clicked on the link for Napoleon Bonaparte, I discovered that the actual Madame Bonaparte's name was Rose. Ironic, because my dresses always have roses on them!! So neat! :) Thanks for the info!
re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By ZandBPremium member Comments: 1065, member since Fri Sep 03, 2004
On Sat Aug 07, 2010 06:59 PM
You mean it isn't called, "The Bloomers Abandoned?"
re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By AussieLauramember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1129, member since Sun Mar 07, 2010
On Sat Aug 07, 2010 07:52 PM
I think you may have forgotten a few, Louise. We Australians have a few more... www.voy.com . . .
re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By RAID_Babemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 5215, member since Thu Feb 18, 2010
On Sun Aug 08, 2010 05:27 AM
Edited by RAID_Babe (220382) on 2010-08-08 05:29:51
Deffs a sticky. Great info.

Was that just for Non-Traditional Sets? Do you know what the origen of Blackbird is and possibly St. Patrick's Day? Also King of the Fairies?
re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17046, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Sun Aug 08, 2010 05:44 AM
Edited by Louise (29559) on 2010-08-08 05:49:30
No idea on King. Presumably about the little people as per Fiddler, or maybe it was metaphorical. I don't know.

St Patrick's Day is probably just written to commemorate the 17th of March - the Irish have always made a bigger deal about their patron saint's day than a lot of nations do.

Blackbird is likely about the bird itself - musicians from all over the world have written songs in honour of songbirds, and blackbird song is one of my favourite sounds so I guess others have been similarly enamoured.
re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By RAID_Babemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 5215, member since Thu Feb 18, 2010
On Sun Aug 08, 2010 05:57 AM
Ah, Louise you're a legend!

Thanks heaps for the definitions :~)
re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By Grainneog Comments: 49, member since Sun Jul 12, 2009
On Sun Aug 08, 2010 06:41 AM
This is really interesting! :)
Go and check out this page: www.diochra.com . . .
re: What does the name of my set dance mean? en>fr fr>en
By seannettaPremium member Comments: 2130, member since Fri Jul 28, 2006
On Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:07 AM
Louise wrote:

Blackbird is likely about the bird itself - musicians from all over the world have written songs in honour of songbirds, and blackbird song is one of my favourite sounds so I guess others have been similarly enamoured.


Blackbird was actually the code name for Bonnie Prince Charlie -- Diochra has some great info on this set here:
www.diochra.com . . .

Great info here, Louise. I'd just add that any "planxty" set is usually one written in honour of whomever the set dance names. So Planxty Davis was a tune written specifically to honour somebody named Davis.

Also, "humours" in the case of tune names usually refers to, quite simply, a good time had by all, usually involving drinking. A merry night out, if you will. So Humours of Bandon probably refers to a grand party that was had in that region.

ID historian John Cullinane writes in his book "Aspects of the History of Irish Dancing" that the origin of Rodney's Glory is probably from Kerry poet Eoghan Ruadh O Suilleabhain, who wrote "The Praises of Admiral Rodney" while serving in the British Navy under Vice-Admiral Rodney, in an effort to secure his release from the Navy.

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