From Clare to Canberra: The Jack Canny Story Part 1-Threads

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I used to think that a 100 years was a long time – ancient history. Now that I have just passed my own half century, I see it differently – close, not that far away, with threads that weave my own history into that time.

There is a reverberation, an echo from down the years, a depth of influence that County Clare has had, and is still having on, Canberra Irish musicians and dancers, like myself.

I was first alerted to this connection in 2004, when my husband Martin and I stepped into a King O’Malleys pub music session in Canberra on a Sunday night, for the first time. We looked at each other in surprise “Sounds just like the Tulla” we said, almost in unison. It was like an instant trip back to Clare – eerie and beautiful.

Music session at King O'Malleys, Canberra

Pete Hobson, Sue Hobson and Mark Tandy at King O’Malleys session. Photo: N.Stewart

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Your Top 5 Céilí Bands for 2016

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The Dartry Céilí Band from Ireland got the most votes this year in our popular poll, closely chased by bands from the USA and the UK – see full results in the table below.

A fantastic response from all over the world with just over 4,000 votes and 175 bands listed. I thank everyone who took the time to vote.

Special mention goes to a very late entrant, the Tanzanian Céil Band – I suspect this  might be our most exotic entry to date. They are raising funds for the Tanzanian Children’s Project and the band’s slogan is:

Traditional Irish Music for A Better World

My sentiments exactly. Congratulations to all the ceili bands for your dedication and all the enjoyment you bring, no matter how many votes you got-more power to you all.

Happy St.Patrick’s Day and enjoy the music and dance wherever you are in the world.

Nora Stewart
www.EasyIrishDance.com
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RESULTS TABLE BELOW

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Vote for Your Top 5 Irish Céilí Bands 2016

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It’s on again – the battle of the Irish céilí bands to get a place in the top 5 for 2016. We had a brilliant response last year and looking forward to supporting our old favourites and the newer bands within the ever-expanding stable of wonderful Irish dance musicians.

We dancers are so lucky to have so many talented and energetic musicians to play for us  and giving support  and a vote to our favourite bands is like the least we can do, although you can vote whether you dance or not. You just have to love the music!

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Your Top 5 Sets for 2016

Thank-you everyone for your 669 votes over a 2 week period…and the winners are:

RANK SET NAME
VOTES
1 Merchant 52
2 Ballyvourney Jig 47
3 Clare Lancers 44
4 Connemara  (aka Connemara Reel ) 34
5 Clare Plain (Reel) 33
6 Cashel 26
7 Caledonian 22
8 West Kerry 20
9= Antrim Square 18
9= Aran 18
9= Claddagh 18
9= Moycullen 18
10= Borlin 14
10= Clare Orange and Green 14
10= Corofin Plain 14
10= Kilfenora Plain 14
11 Croisloch 13
12= Caragh Lake Jig 12
12= Paris 12
12= Sliabh Luachra (aka North Cork Polka ) 12
13= Labasheeda 11
13= Metal Bridge 11
14= Newport 10
14= Rinkinstown 10
15 Camp 8
16 North Kerry 7
17= Black Valley Square Jig 6
17= Boyne 6
17= Connemara Jig (aka Freres Nantes) 6
17= Derrada 6
17= Hurry the Jug 6
17= South Sligo Lancers 6
18= Auban 5
18= Ballycommon 5
18= Sliabh gCua 5
19= Armagh 4
19= Corballa 4
19= Kildownet Half 4
19= South Galway Reel(aka South Galway Half & South Galway Half ) 4
19= South Kerry 4
20= Ballyduff 3
20= Borlin Jenny 3
20= Clare Plain Polka 3
20= Dublin 3
20= Glencree 3
20= Mazurka 3
20= Melleray Lancers 3
20= Roscommon Lancers 3
20= Sliabh Fraoch 3

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Vote For Your Top 5 Sets 2016

Wow! The great long list of Irish set dances attached below – 236 in all – including many new ones this year, is a testament to the current health of set dancing.

Following the successful poll this time last year with Ballyvourney Jig Set at the top – see results from 2015 – I thought we’d give it another go.

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Your Top 3 Irish Céilí Dances

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“Well, that was embarrassing!” Not a great start for a blog post but that is about the size of it. The results are in from the global poll and I received a grand total of 91 voters, the lowest response by far of the three polls I have conducted.

This is despite the fact that almost 3 times that many people read the blog post, two-thirds of you readers did not vote.

However, my thanks to those who did vote, and the High Cauled Cap was in front all the way. Continue reading

Vote for Your Top 3 Céilí Dances

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Céilí (kay-lee) dancing has a relatively short, interesting and contrary history. Born out of the Gaelic League’s desire to create a clear Irish cultural and social identity, the League created a form of modern Irish step dancing in 1893 that would be an indigenous and codified form of dance: clearly Irish.

Sadly, as part of the ban on “everything English”, they also banished the round dances, country dances and quadrilles, which were loved by many dancers.

In 1929, the Irish Dancing Commission (An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha) re-created some of those popular dances and they called them céilí dances. They were adopted to complement modern step dancing , and were also danced in social settings with gusto, particularly by Nationalist communities in Northern Ireland. Some examples include The Walls of Limerick, The Siege of Ennis and The High Cauled Cap to name but a few.* READ MORE DANCE HISTORY

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Dance Shoes vs. Shoes for Dance?

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I was recently asked by a new Irish set dancer what shoes I would recommend for dancing. I hesitated in replying, not sure why. I realised that to answer this question, I had to ask a question in return. You have to decide if you want:

1. Dance shoes or
2. Shoes for dance
They are not necessarily one and the same thing.

For dancers, your feet are the most important part of your body to look after. I have been  largely ignorant of this and realise only now how lucky I was to grow up in the Pacific, barefeet most of the time, and have avoided many problems that come for most people from wearing poorly-fitting shoes. READ MORE HERE

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Irish Set Dancing: 3 Sets For Beginner Classes-Ease Them In Gently

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I remember my first set dancing experience in early 1989 as a blur – a great fun, sweaty, frustrating blur of people, heat and amazing sound. I have no recollection at all of the sets I learned but the remainder was a great sense and wonderful feeling of what it was all about. And that is an important thing to reflect on when you are preparing to teach a group or a class who have no experience of dancing sets.

What you, as a teacher, are doing initially is trying to create a good positive experience – one that hopefully will inspire & encourage new dancers enough to keep them coming back, as learning set dancing is a long-term pursuit, not a quick fix.

And predictably, as a dancer making the transition from doing to teaching, I made lots of mistakes – still making them, actually! I started teaching my new class what I had started with-the Caledonian Set, the Ballyvourney Jig Set, the North Kerry Set, the Clare Plain Set, as examples.

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2015 Irish Set Dancing Summer Festivals Céilí Planner

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Calling all dancers: the Irish summer is only weeks away now- get ready to dance!!!

Calling all dancers! It's summertime!I’m getting very excited about all the dance, music, fun, friendship and cráic ahead. It really is the best fun you can have standing up!I I have updated the Irish Summer Dance and Music for 2015 dates and information about a range of Irish, US and German dance festivals. This year  I have also put together this schedule of brilliant dance céilí choices below to help me decide what to go to and where… I need to grow two more pairs of legs to stretch myself across all these fabulous offerings!

IRISH SUMMER FESTIVAL CÉILÍS
You can click on the table below to make it bigger or you can download a Word document version here Irish set dancing summer festival ceili planner 2015.

2015 Summer Irish set dancing plannerHope to see you somewhere out there on the dance floor!
Best wishes and happy dancing!
Nora Stewart
www.EasyIrishDance.com

WINNER 5