Blog Irish: Moving forward

I started this blog nearly five years ago, with the intention of giving some context and depth to the Irish culture surrounding the traditional music and dance we all love so much.

It has been an amazing journey of discovery for me, and I plan to continue that journey and expand it as widely as possible. I plan to write more, do more research, make more films and ask your opinions though surveys, including running the Top 5 Irish Céilí Bands poll again this August to coincide with the Fleadh Cheoil Na Éireann 2018.

I plan to continue to make as much as I can available to lovers of Irish music and dance through and also through my Easy Irish Dance YouTube channel.

So welcome to Irish Bliss Nua aka, for what i hope will be a new chapter for me, and for you, my readers.

Irish Bliss is now at

When you go to the new site, you will see that the layout and orientation of the new site is the same as previously, so you don’t get lost.

The immediate benefit to you of this new site will be the removal of that pesky advertising, particularly for those use cell/ mobiles or tablets to read. I may introduce some advertising that is relevant to you at some stage later but it will be less intrusive.

If you have suggestions for any topic you would like to see more of, please let me know.

Thank-you for continuing to read. support and enjoy.

Nora Stewart

Irish sean nós : Rich and deep


Sean nós  (say shan-nose) means old style in Irish, and I have often wondered just how old old really is. The very first time I remember seeing Irish sean nós dancing was in  early 1989 at my very first Irish set dancing weekend in Donegal Town, Co.Donegal. The snow was all aflutter outside the big windows of the hotel ballroom and three auld fellas shuffled along, “doing a bit of shtep” during the céilí -that’s how I recall it. It was relaxed, simple, very rhythmic and obviously, memorable.

Picking up the thread from my last post  Irish dance history: A contrary tale: Part 2 , I have been exploring more about the potential roots of Irish sean nós heritage, which it seems, may possibly originate from North Africa.  Bob Quinn, in his 1981 documentary series The Atlanteans, illustrateEurope map with travel route of Berberss his theory that  dwellers on the West Coast of Ireland, particularly in Connemara,  are not Celts but what he terms “Atlanteans”. They are ancient descendants of sea-faring people from Algeria and Morocco- the Berbers – who travelled all along the Atlantic coastline – West along Spain, Portugal, Basque country, Brittany in France and then North -West to Ireland – settled in parts and continued using the sea as a big super highway, that was much safer than travelling across land.

I found the evidence presented in the documentary compelling and curious,  with potential multiple connections between ancient Irish and Berber civilisations starting with traditional singing, dancing & music, musical instruments including the Irish drum bodhrán which has a double in the Berber bandir, sailing boats – Galway Hookers with púcán sails & Felucca with lateen sails,  stone circles, standing stones and carvings in similar contexts in both countries, art and fine jewellery pieces thought to be Celtic have an eery resonance in the Berber style, and on it goes. Have a look here for picture examples.

Continue reading

St. Valentine – from Ireland to Australia


Moved by the music – Annie Hayward Art

It is said, that Valentinus, as he was known before he became St.Valentine, was canonised for giving help to Christians, including marrying them, when this was a crime.

“He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome… Claudius took a liking to this prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stones; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded  on February 14th outside the Flaminian Gate, North of Rome.” Wikipedia

What not many people know that St.Valentine’s remains are in Dublin, in Whitefriar Church in Aungier Street, not far from St.Stephen’s Green. The remains of St. Valentine and “a small vessel tinged with his blood.” were a gift from Pope Gregory XVI to a famous Irish priest and preacher, Fr. John Spratt in 1836. Continue reading