last updated 19 May 2006
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Set Dancing News

Old news and reviews - Volume 3 - 1998-1999

Copyright © 2011 Bill Lynch
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Contents:
There's more to read in the collections of old news and reviews, volumes 11997-1998, 2, 31998-1999, 41999, 51999-2000, 6, 72000, 8, 9, 102001, 112001-2002, 12, 13, 14, 152002, 162002-2003, 17, 18, 192003, 202003-2004, 21, 22, 23, 24, 252004, 262004-2005, 27, 28, 29, 30, 312005, 322005-2006, 33, 34, 35, 36, 372006, 38, 392006-2007, 40, 41, 42, 432007, 442007-2008, 442007-2008, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 502008, 512008-2009, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 572009, 582009-2010, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 652010, 662010–2011, 67, 68, 69, 70, 712011, 722011–2012, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 782012, 792012-2013, 80, 81, 82, 832013, 842013-2014 (Index).

Connie Ryan

In the village of Clonoulty
In June of '99,
A mighty man was honoured.
A weekend of sun came smiling down.
A marquee was erected
To house thousands of fans,
For ceilithe and workshops,
To commemorate the master of the dance.

With Ard Erin, Michael Sexton
And the Glenside Ceili Band,
'The craic was mighty! Magic!'
We danced sets from all over Ireland.
There have been many tributes,
In Connie's lifetime, and since his death.
A yearly 'Gathering' in Clonoulty
Would be a perfect monument to his birth.

Joan Pollard Carew, Thurles, Co Tipperary

Hundreds attend Clonoulty Gathering

Even after a year of careful preparation, the people of Clonoulty, Co Tipperary, didn't really know what the Connie Ryan Gathering, 11-13 June, would bring to their village - they'd never seen a set dancing weekend before. The dancers, however, knew exactly what to expect and came in droves to both to honour Connie and to dance their socks off. Everyone's delight was evident from the first night and mounted as the weekend progressed, but no one could have been more pleased with its success than the members of the organising committee.

Connie Ryan is probably the most important figure in the set dancing revival and his death two years ago was deeply felt by dancers across the world. Many of the set dancing workshops he held annually continue today with his successors and are dedicated to his memory. The Connie Ryan Gathering had an important difference - it was put on by his friends and family in the village where he was born and raised.

Clonoulty is an unlikely place for a set dancing workshop, a small village straddling a minor road with a shop and two pubs, and it took a lot of work to accommodate hundreds of dancers. The first thing I spotted on arrival was the huge L-shaped wooden-floored marquee tucked in beside a pub. The wooden floor was specially built for the weekend and I heard that sections of it were rebuilt until they were right for dancing. £16,000 was spent preparing for the weekend, with a £4,000 grant.

The first dancing of the weekend, however, was in the community hall at the opening ceremony. In attendance were members of Connie's family, including his mother, sisters, brothers, wife, a daughter and even a cousin from Australia. Betty McCoy officially opened the weekend and she told some lovely personal stories about Connie. She revealed that we have Connie to thank for the Connemara set that we dance today. In Connemara it was danced as a half set in two figures, a long reel followed by the 'Maggie in the Wood' polka. Connie divided the reel into three figures, arranged it for tops and sides and added the lead around and circle which open them.

With the opening formalities over, dancing began in the comfortable little hall to the music of the Ard Erin Ceili Band. Before long, the band and dancers shifted to the marquee where we danced the night away. The floor received favourable comment and held up well, even though the heavy duty plywood panels shook like paper under the dancing sets.

There was a choice of two workshops on Saturday, with Pat Murphy in the marquee and Michael Loughnane and Johnny Morrissey sharing the hall. All Tipperary men, Pat taught some newly revived sets, while Michael and Johnny specialised in local sets. The lunch break was a unique experience with many dancers paying a fiver for a three course meal served by the locals. It was dished up from a big tent behind the school where some ate in a classroom and others at long tables and benches outside. Michael Sexton played Saturday night to a huge crowd which fitted well into the marquee.

The locals welcomed hundreds of visitors into their homes as there are no hotels or B&Bs in the area. All were pleased with the accommodation. I heard of one farmhouse where the kitchen was shared with chickens, ducks and a pet lamb that behaved like a dog, to the delight of the guests.

Sunday was a special day of tribute to Connie. Mass was said in his memory and the beautifully kept church was filled to the rafters. Dancers arrived early for a seat, while the locals arrived at their usual time for standing room only. During the service Matt Cunningham and Michael Tubridy played together on fiddle and flute. Afterwards dancers crowded around the church for the kind of friendly chat you have after a good ceili. Sunday lunch was served in the hall where Connie's sisters and brothers mixed with the dancers. I learned that Connie's three sisters each married men named Ryan. Meanwhile the 'dignitaries' were bussed off to Thurles for lunch.

Later, crowds gathered by the letterbox on the street where a memorial to Connie hidden behind red curtains was due to be revealed. People crowded on both sides of road, separated by a constant stream of traffic heading to a match in Thurles, Cork versus Tipperary. As we waited and waited for the 'dignitaries' to return to begin the proceedings it became clear they were delayed by the heavy traffic. The guards suggested that we move back to the village but not a soul moved - we were content to wait in good weather among friends. Finally a great cheer greeted the bus and the ceremonies began.

It was Ciarán Mac Mathúna who had the honour of revealing Connie's memorial after a couple of speeches. It was installed in the wall beside the letterbox which Connie himself would have used many times. Behind the wall is the cemetery where Connie is buried and we moved to his grave for more tributes. Diarmuid Breathnach spoke of Clonoulty and Connie, Matt Cunningham played a slow air on the whistle and we were laughing and crying from one moment to the next.

At the ceili with the Glenside Ceili Band the marquee was opened to let in air and a view of the cows in the field beside, reminding us where we were. During the break, P J Ryan, Connie's brother amused the crowd with more stories of Connie and Clonoulty. The weekend ended on a high note with the crowds of visitors and locals in agreement about its success. The memorials and tributes to Connie are very welcome, but more significant is that he can still fill dance halls with happy dancers for an entire weekend even two years after his death. Plans are already in place for the second Connie Ryan Gathering in Clonoulty next June.

Bill Lynch


A surprising venue in Watergrasshill

Set dancing is full of surprises, even if you've been at it a while, and on a tiny country lane in Cork outside the village of Watergrasshill I spent an evening in a remarkable venue which you could only find in Ireland.

It was a Saturday night in June and travelling along the main road between Fermoy and Cork City I spotted a helpful sign which said BARN DANCE. I turned down the lane, and was directed down an even smaller track barely wide enough for a car. After a few bends and turns past barns and cottages there was another barn which looked like all the others, jumble of corrugated steel. I studied it carefully for signs that this might be the venue and noticed a row of coloured lights over the door - they weren't lit but I decided I was at the right place.

I parked beside, ventured in and found a spacious hall with a good floor. Everything had a homemade but well-kept look that made you feel immediately relaxed and comfortable. It was decorated with all sorts of reclaimed materials, including panels of cartoon characters painted by children, carpet on the wall, floorboards on the ceiling over the band and corrugated steel everywhere else. Beside the hall were other large rooms - an entrance hall with a wooden floor for extra dancing space, a tea room with tables and chairs, and a lounge with comfy chairs.

The barn belongs to Michael Murphy who runs the dances with help from friends. After eight years in operation everything is very well organised. It's a popular venue and despite the narrow roads three busloads of visiting dancers were there - two from Limerick and another from Dublin. The hall was filled, the atmosphere was excellent and the superb music of Taylors Cross from Kerry continued half an hour beyond the scheduled finish.

The barn dances at Watergrasshill are an excellent example of Irish ingenuity for entertainment - good crowds, great bands and, best of all, a disused cattle barn converted into functional and charming dance hall. I'd be delighted to return to again and again!

Bill Lynch


Spreading the word in California

Southern California's nascent set dance scene was considerably enlivened and enthused by the recent visits of two popular teachers with the name of Patrick - Patrick O'Dea and Pat Murphy. Most Set Dancing News readers would naturally assume that set dancing was alive and thriving in southern California where almost every type of dancing and music is available. However, set dancing is hardly known here and a small band of dancers valiantly tries to spread the word. Our task was considerably assisted by the recent visits of our teacher-guests.

Redlands hosted Patrick O'Dea on an Irish-like cold and rainy day in April. Under Patrick's tutelage, two sets of experienced dancers danced their way through the Armagh Lancers in a morning session followed by a larger afternoon 'beginners' workshop where Patrick taught the Ballycommon and the North Kerry polka sets. These festivities were followed by an evening ceili where the workshop sets were danced along with ceili dances, and performances by kids from the local Irish dance school.

Pasadena was the site of Pat Murphy's pre-4th of July workshop. Even though most dancers were out of town for the holiday weekend, we still were able to muster four sets which is remarkable given that few are familiar with set dancing. However, word spread and an eclectic mix of Scottish, contra, Cajun and, of course, Irish dancers were drawn to the promise of good music and good fun, and Pat Murphy more than delivered on both accounts. Pat taught the Mayo Lancers and the Corofin Plain. The dancers were also treated to a mini-battering workshop as well. The afternoon was rounded out with the dancing of some popular sets to Pat's calls. A humorous high point was Pat's recruitment of a reluctant woman spectator to call the sets at his direction. Pat's microphone lead hindered his dancing so the microphone was given to Judy who did her best to call steps that she had never before heard or seen. Pat's soft, Tipperary-accented instructions to her often got lost in translation and, for example, the call 'Tops Gallop' got shouted out as 'Top Scallops!' Pat, urgently trying to make himself heard above the din of music and laughter, often repeated his calls to Judy, and she, dutifully trying to do what she was told, often made calls such as 'swing, swing, swing!' The dancers and local Irish musicians from the Celtic Regional Arts Institute of California retired to a well-deserved evening of food, music, and of course, more dancing.

Aleta Hancock, Pasadena, California


Black Shoes

No soft foot to warm my sole,
My laces are in tatters
My tongue hangs out,
My heels are worn
From all the steps and batters.

From maple floors to tarmac,
Concrete slabs and tiles,
I stepped it out on all of them,
Covering miles and miles.

Now I am redundant.
My dancing days are done.
Thrown here on the rubbish heap,
Away from all the fun.

Joan Pollard Carew, Thurles, Co Tipperary


The French gourmet taste

On the 16th of July the Bridge Bar, Portmagee, Co Kerry, played host to eighteen set dancers from France with their leader Didier Matherat, now living in Leitrim.

As part of a tour around Ireland they arrived in the Bar on Friday night in time for our usual session of dancing and music. Everyone made the most of the night, getting on the floor with the locals in the South Kerry set as well as the popular Clare reel sets. There were some great dancers among them and they appreciated the music of the local musicians, Paddy and Séamus.

Didier had requested a mini-workshop to learn one of the local sets, so on Sunday we all met up in the Community Hall to do the Valentia Right and Left Set. Julian Stracey did the teaching and a group of local dancers demonstrated the figures. A break for lunch took us back to the Bar for delicious homemade soup, brown bread, etc. I think we satisfied the French gourmet taste! There was plenty of chat - language barrier, how are ye?

Back to finish the teaching and dance the set through and all too soon our French friends wee on the road again. Thanks for a great weekend, Didier and the gang and we look forward to another session next year. Maybe the Portmagee Mezerk?

Beryl Stracey, Caherciveen, Co Kerry


The Mighty Set Dancing Master

Connie Ryan, the Mighty Set Dancing Master A book on the life of Connie Ryan has been written and published by his friend, Michael Tubridy, called Connie Ryan, the Mighty Set Dancing Master. The sixty page book covers Connie's early years in Co Tipperary, his move to Dublin in the sixties, his many dancing activities there, his dancing tours of Britain and America, his work in collecting sets, the many workshops he conducted, his illness and much more. The book is well researched, highly informative and benefits from many interesting photographs from family and friends.

At the launch of the book in Connie's home village, Clonoulty, Co Tipperary, on 21 May 1999, Michael himself spoke about his work on it -

When I started out and had reached the point of having all the information I could gather entered into the computer, as a result of speaking to a reasonable number of people and going through Connie's recorded interviews, I ended up with about twice as much material as I could fit into the size booklet I was planning, so I had to take out the scissors and start chopping. On the one hand that's a very nice position to be in, but on the other I had to start deleting material I would have liked to leave in. And then with all the chopping and changing and getting the text into some sort of order there's always the danger of accidentally deleting something important.
When officially launching the book, Éamonn De Stafort said -
We are indebted to Michael Tubridy for gathering such a vast amount of information on the late Connie Ryan. This is an exciting book that will touch the hearts of many friends, colleagues and acquaintances and those who never met the might set dancing master. It is also a book of hope, and one which will find special appeal for those with a disability. It is a book that illustrates how greatness can evolve, indeed erupt, from adversity. It is a book of travel, of humour, of commitment and of great and apparent endless animation. It is a book that digs deep into the traditions of Irish culture, a story of reviving tradition in an age of technology and satellite.
Copies are available directly from Michael for £6 including postage to Ireland and Britain, £7 to Europe and £7.50 elsewhere. Proceeds of the book will be used to support the Connie Ryan Gathering in Clonoulty. The full text of the speeches from the launch of the book are available on the Connie Ryan page.

Kilconly Crossroads Ceili

This was the eighth annual crossroads ceili and from the committee's point of view was another very successful event. A large crowd from far and near turned up on the day and thanks to the Set Dancing News website for attracting interest from even further afield this year than ever before. As I said in my previous article the whole event was broadcast live on the Internet on the day and it is hoped in the near future to have a part of the ceili available to watch again on the site at www.kilconly.com. We had 159 emails on the day with over 250 people visiting from such distant places as Argentina, Nigeria and Japan. While I am on the subject of the websites the Set Dancing News website also attracted a freelance photographer from Seattle who visited Kilconly on the day and we believe that the Kilconly crossroads ceili will now feature in his forthcoming book on Irish set dancing. This man, Doug Plummer, and his partner are excellent set dancers. I had the pleasure myself of dancing a set with his partner and I could only describe her as a flyer, which is what people around this area call a great dancer. So, Doug, if you are reading this we were delighted to have you and hope to have you back again next year maybe to launch your book.

The band who played here before three years ago played wonderful music on the day. The comments of a lot of set dancers in the evening were that the music was superb, some even commented that it was the nicest music that they had ever heard. So full credit to Pat Friel and Heather Breeze who are in this author's opinion a class act. The floor that we had was 300 square feet and, as could be seen on the website, was full for most of the day with all having an enjoyable and memorable time.

I would like to give some information on the origin of the Kilconly crossroads ceili, which as people could see on the website is not held at the crossroads anymore. From my research into this I have been reliably informed that approximately 100 years ago people from the surrounding villages would get together at the crossroads one mile from where the open-air ceili is now held. Here there would always be a few musicians, the main instruments at the time would be the fiddle that musicians would make themselves and the melodeon, and there would be music and dancing into the small hours of the night. My source stated that this would not just be a yearly event as our crossroads ceili now is, but they would be held every week during the summer months and not on a plywood floor as ours, but on a sandy road.

One more thing that I would like to mention is that all the proceeds of this years ceili and festival are being donated to St Patrick's Intensive Care Unit in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Dublin. The money raised will be channelled into the purchase of a cardiac monitor in memory of a little girl - Aoife Corcoran who at the age of ten passed away in the aforementioned unit of a rare blood disorder only a few weeks prior to our ceili. Aoife was the daughter of Paul and Evelyn Corcoran, Kilconly, and Paul is the chairman of our festival committee.

Tony Burke


The 'final' Galway International

The 10th Galway International Set Dancing Festival, Salthill, Co Galway, 26-28 March 1999, was announced long in advance as the final one by its organising committee. Over the previous years they'd succeeded in running Ireland's biggest set dancing event, in raising over £30,000 for charity and in publishing the first set dancing magazine. After a successful decade and spectacular final weekend, the committee was going to retire, trusting that other committed set dancers would fill the vacuum.

In common with all the other Galway Internationals, the weekend was a great success, with superb music, enthusiastic dancers and an electric buzz in every event. The fact that this was the last one attracted many dancers who'd never been before and there were large numbers from Britain, Europe and America. While ecstatically dancing our socks off we all mentioned the same thing to every partner - 'It's a pity it's the last one, isn't it?' When you're having the time of your life it's hard to see why you shouldn't be able to do it again next year.

Of course, set dancers are always having the time of their life - that's why we do it! - and if the Galway International was gone, we'd go elsewhere. But over the course of the weekend the committee appeared to be weakening. Already on Friday night rumour had it that the committee would reform and continue with a revised weekend. On Saturday night, Colie Mullin, head of the committee, confirmed that they were looking into continuing the weekend, and on Sunday he announced that not only would it probably continue, but it looked very likely that they would be able to use Seapoint for the whole weekend next year! A great feeling of relief was had by all.

When I attended the festival for the first time last year and had a brilliant time, veterans would all say, 'Oh, you should have been here when it was in Seapoint!' They spoke with great reverence about this ballroom, saying how it had a perfect floor, comfortable room for eighty sets and a magical balcony offering heavenly views of the dancers below. So the big attraction for me this year was the chance to see this legendary dance hall for myself.

Seapoint sits facing the sea on the main street in Salthill, an imposing facade dedicated entirely to pleasure, with an amusement arcade on the ground floor, a bingo hall above that and the ballroom on top of that at the end of several flights of stairs. All the talk I'd heard about the place had built it up in my mind to the size of an ocean liner with a floor the size of a football pitch, and I was both pleased and disappointed to see that it had an ordinary human scale. The decor is remarkable, in a perfect state of preservation from the sixties when I imagine it was built. Everything was clean and gleaming, there was nearly enough seating for all, and while it was spacious, you didn't need to take a taxi to the other side.

The Fodhla Ceili Band played that night just as they had ten years earlier and there was an enthusiastic crowd right from the first set through to the national anthem some four hours later. I discovered that Seapoint is certainly large enough to get lost in. I was looking for one partner all evening long and only found her at the end of the ceili, even though she'd been there nearly as long as I had. I heard similar stories from others.

Midway through I decided to take a break from the dancing and rushed up stairs to experience the balcony for myself. I was surprised at how enjoyable it is to sit out a dance there. The dancers and patterns of the sets are mesmerising seen from above and I was only released from my trance after I was spotted by a friend on the floor who booked me for a dance using hand signals.

The weekend's other ceilis were excellent with all the bands on top form - Shaskeen never sounded better, and Michael Sexton was also at his peak of performance. The committee made a minor innovation on Saturday afternoon by holding a ceili instead of the usual workshop for a grand total of five ceilis. As if that weren't enough, you could get nicely warmed up at the two sessions before the ceilis on Friday and Saturday to the music of Maura O'Keeffe, Charlie Piggot and Johnny Connolly. The group of local musicians calling themselves House at Home played the weekend out on Sunday night and got very favourable comments from dancers. Some felt they were the best of the weekend, with special thanks to Benny O'Connor of Shaskeen who filled in on drums.

The sean nós dancing workshops with Roisín Ní Mhainnín was very well attended, with around 100. Pat Murphy with Betty McCoy and Timmy McCarthy each had about seven sets in their workshops, but Timmy was in such a small hall that on Saturday he moved us out to the sunshine where we danced on the roof of the building. Rain kept everyone crowded inside on Sunday. Timmy's trademark, his well worn accordion, was stolen in France shortly before the weekend so he played on a borrowed box. The music was just as good as ever, though you'd miss the unique sound of the old one which was always seemed part of him and his dancing.

Once it was all over I was on a dancing high that lasted for days. Thanks and congratulations to the committee for such an excellent weekend. If it is truly the final Galway International I'll be sorry indeed, but I'm keeping a space clear in my calendar for next year - just in case!

Bill Lynch

The dream of an exhausted dancer

I stayed at the Hotel Sacre-Coeur during the recent set dancing festival in Galway. My room, number 12, was directly above the dance hall. I had gotten into bed at 2.30am last Monday morning (the morning after the festival ended) when I heard someone begin playing jigs on the accordion in the dance hall below.

Almost immediately, I then heard the sound of dancing - the Ballyvourney Jig Set perhaps? In the otherwise quiet hotel, the rhythmic 'click' of shoes on the wooden floor was quite easy to hear. Next, the accordion played a Christmas tune, Jingle Bells or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I was very sleepy at the time and thus do not trust my memory. However, I do clearly remember the Ballyvourney Jig Set being danced again. A quick look at my watch told me that it was now 2.42am. After that either the music and dancing stopped, or else I finally fell asleep.

The following morning, two of the Germans who were staying at the hotel confirmed that all this actually happened - so it was not the dream of an exhausted dancer.

A M R Magee, Amsterdam

The new issue of the Set Dancer

The sixth annual issue of the Set Dancer magazine was launched at the Galway International. It's full of articles about set dancing and set dancers, including Timmy McCarthy who appears in colour on the cover, Seosamh O Neachain, Fiona Dore Buckley from New Jersey, Bertie Flannery and much more. Copies are available for £4 postpaid to Ireland and Britain from Colie Mullin, or for in the USA from Maureen Chamillard, 62 Garden Road, Wellesley, Boston, Massachusetts.

Travel notes

It's all systems go for the tour to New Zealand in March 2000! Organiser Tom McNamara will be contacting interested dancers in the coming weeks and meeting with many of them in July at Spanish Point, Co Clare. If you're interested but haven't been in touch yet, contact Tom soon.

Cycling and set dancing tours of Ireland are being organised this summer by Irish Cycling Safaris. Staff of the Dublin-based company are keen dancers themselves and have planned tours visiting areas with strong music and dance traditions. During the week's tour participants cycle on scenic back roads in the mornings, learn the local set in the afternoons and dance away the evenings at sessions and ceilis. The end of each tour coincides with a festival for more dancing. You can cycle light but travel heavy as all luggage is carried separately by van. Beginning and experienced dancers are welcome. Contact Eamon Ryan.


How to 'tutti home' and 'tutti house'

Encouraged by the low airfares to Europe we decided to do something different, so we arranged a trip to Venice around Pádraig and Roisín McEneaney's workshop in Treviso on the March 13 weekend. It turned out to be a great idea. The workshop was hosted by Stefania Sossella and Romano Baratella, whom we met in Malahide this January. You could not have asked for better hosts. They took us along with Pádraig and Roisín and treated us to a superb Italian dinner. Pádraig gave one workshop on Saturday and two on Sunday, and there was a dinner and ceili on Saturday evening.

We had a wonderful time dancing the Clare Orange and Green at the Saturday workshop, although we had an unfair advantage because we understood English, unlike everyone else. Then Romano gave Pádraig some tips on calling the dance in Italian. Listening to Romano give the instructions half in Italian and half in English added a whole new dimension to set dancing. Now we know how to 'tutti home' and 'tutti house.' One of the nicest parts of the weekend was how friendly everyone was to us, and it's amazing how you can hold a conversation when you all don't speak the same language.

After the workshop, we had dinner in the 'bar' across the road. In Italy, a bar also means an espresso bar, and it doesn't taste any better than in Italy.

The Saturday night ceili was great fun. It was a mix of Irish, Italian, French, Spanish, and Basque dancing, and we had never done any but the Irish. But with Stefania and Romano's help, we all gave it a shot. We were glad we did, because we had a great time. The musicians and the music were superb, and you could have listened to it all night.

Next year, Pat Murphy is doing the Treviso workshop in March. We will definitely keep this in mind.

Donna Bauer and Steve Casey, New York


A comfortable fleadh cheoil in Parsippany

As a tribute to Connie Ryan, a group of set dancers who are part of the Slievenamon Set Dancing Club, were invited to the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann 1999 North American Convention.

Connie had made a total of fifteen trips to the United States to give set dancing workshops. In 1988 he liaised with Paul Keating to bring 57 dancers on a tour of North America and three years later he repeated the tour. It is generally acknowledged that these tours and Connie's teaching created the strong revival of set dancing that exists in America today.

The convention was honouring women who had made a special contribution to Irish arts and Betty McCoy as co-director of Slievenamon Set Dancers was presented with a piece of Galway crystal for her special contribution to set dancing.

The weekend took place from 9th to 11th April in the Parsippany Hilton in New Jersey. Set in a corporate park of hotels the venue was opulent and comfortable. Workshops in music and song and of course dancing gave a life to the hotel it could never have seen before. Kieran Hanrahan described it as like being at a comfortable fleadh cheoil for music rang out from every nook and cranny.

The eight dancers - Betty McCoy (Dublin), Pat Murphy (Tipperary), Geraldine Connolly (Offaly), Paddy Neylon (Clare), Phil Nugent (Offaly), Jim Barry (Kerry), Aidan Vaughan (Clare) and Deirdre Morrissey (Wicklow) gave the workshops throughout the weekend. Among the sets danced were the Kildownet, the Derradda, the Williamstown and the Killyon. Paddy Neylon and Aidan Vaughan's workshops on sean nós dancing were a particular success.

The was the first time the convention had invited eight dancers to give demonstrations and workshops and the feedback was very positive as the full set gave a real buzz to the weekend. While one instructor took charge of each workshop, the dancers demonstrated each set and then integrated around the hall. With about sixty sets at each workshop this was helpful to the participants who were delighted with the extra help.

The highlight of the weekend was the banquet and the Slievenamon dancers were part of the entertainment. They danced a figure of the Cashel set in memory of Connie and then a figure of the Caledonian. The two Clare men, Paddy Neylon and Aidan Vaughan, battered out their steps amid roars and stomping from the crowd for more. They generated a great atmosphere.

There were a total of four ceilis. The first kicked off with the Pete Kelly band. They could be loosely described as in the same tradition of the Tulla - rhythmic, steady and a joy to dance to. Their box player was Martin Mulcare, who had gone on a tour to America in the 1960s and stayed on. His wife Carmel hails from the Clare-Galway border and is a lovely traditional set dancer.

The other bands were faster in tempo, pulsating and lively. It seems the debate about the pace of music is universal. Paul Keating and Margie O'Driscoll looked after the dancers well. The specially erected dance floor was good and bouncy and cold icy water was on hand at every angle.

A great weekend.

Deirdre Morrissey, Bray, Co Wicklow

We will all miss him so much

Dear Bill

I did not go to all the workshops but the ones I attended were really great. I feel the team teaching approach really works especially in this case where the teachers were able to defer to each other with grace and good humour. The students received the benefits of so many experts, like going to a school full of great teachers but all in one weekend and all in one place. My personal favorite is Pat Murphy. His manner is gentlemanly at all times and his selection of dances always engaging. The sean nós workshop on Sunday morning was also of great interest to me since until then I was unaware that there is actually a structure to a performance of sean nós. I learned that morning that the first movement is a little lead around figure, then advance retire and house at home. They of course were always there but I never appreciated them.

The music Saturday night was spectacular. Several CCE musicians led by the always dynamic Joannie Madden made the evening unforgettable. Other musicians included Gerry O'Sullivan, Martin Mulhare and Joe Madden. As great musicians arrived to 'look in' at the dancers, very many of them took out their instruments and joined the band. The final dance of the evening, the Clare Lancers, was memorable.

We were also saddened by the unexpected death Wednesday, May 12th, of Bill Pfeiffer of New Jersey who had been working so hard on and at the Convention. He and his fiancée, Ann O'Connor were enjoying themselves there where he wore his Kilt at the banquet and also the ceili. He is in your picture in the April-May issue from Dan O'Connell's pub the last night of the Tralee festival. He was well known as a dancer in the New York, New Jersey, Washington, Chicago and Pittsburgh areas. He was a wonderful guy as well, pious, and endearing to us all for his individuality and robust love of life. We will all miss him so much.

Marie Dillon and John Cash, New York


Hail Glorious St Patrick in Vietnam

At the beginning of February 1999 we received an invitation to go to celebrate St Patrick's day in Vietnam and to bring two musicians preferably from Longford with us. After much excited anticipation we set off on Saturday 13 March accompanied by Jimmy McLoughlin form Longford on accordion and Geraldine McLynn from Westmeath on fiddle for a long journey which took twelve hours from Paris.

We arrived in Ho-Chi-Minh City on Sunday at 3.40pm local time to a temperature of 35°C. Our journey to our super hotel was breathtaking as we were surrounded by hundreds of motorcycles, their main mode of transport, which resembled swarms of flies.

We had two days to prepare for our major St Pat's function. On Monday night a dinner party introduced us to most of the twenty Irish people who live there. Music, dance and song were the orders of the night and the Connemara set was a very popular choice. Tuesday night saw a workshop with three and half sets all very anxious to learn céilí dancing as well as sets. So three hours later a tired crowd of people comprising English, Australian, French and Irish staggered exhausted from the hall, while we were just beginning. We finished off our night in a bar doing the Walls of Limerick with some local Vietnamese people who had adopted our dance from watching Titanic.

St Patrick's day arrived and at 9am we visited a junior school with children from four to seven years old. Their concentration was great and the look of amazement in their little eyes as they gazed from accordion to fiddle was enough to move one to tears.

The senior school which was our next port of call received us in a similar fashion and again some of the children had the opportunity to try our dance with us. This was made very worthwhile when their parents came to us later that night to say the excitement we created for them would never be forgotten as they thought they might now qualify for Riverdance.

At 7.30pm the party began with 400 people in attendance. Irish, Australian, Indian, Canadian, French, Chinese, Scottish and Vietnamese had all arrived to celebrate St Patrick.

Reels, jigs, hornpipes, waltzes, songs, set dances, céilí dances, laminated song sheets with favourite Irish ballads, smoked salmon on brown bread, Irish beef stew, Baileys, apple tart and cream, Irish whiskey and of course Guinness were all par for the best St Patrick's night we ever experienced. The MC for the night, Seamus McGowan, was excellent with plenty of Longford wit, good jokes and a few lively tunes on the harmonica.

The highlight had to be a rendering of The Rocky Road to Dublin by Dave from Carlow backed by Mick, Jimmy, Geraldine, Vietnamese drummers, electric guitar and Keith from Finglas on keyboard. What a sound! The party ended at 5.30am with everyone promising that the memory of this night would last with them forever.

The next few days saw us on sightseeing trips to the Mikon Delta, the Cu Chi tunnels, a coconut making factory, paddy fields and a rice noodle factory. All experiences were well worth seeing. On Thursday night a concert of Mozart's music sung by the local choir and accompanied by the local orchestra provided a most enjoyable evening.

As temperatures soared to 38°C and we began to wilt, our last gig was in O'Brien's Bar on Friday night-an Irish bar in Ho-Chi-Minh City which was owned by a Frenchman-another great night of music, song and dance. Saturday and Sunday saw mad bargain hunting and what a job we all had to curtail our spending as it is the last shopping paradise on Earth.

Sunday evening after sad farewells we all had time to dwell on the great experience we had had. The beautiful Vietnamese people, so pretty, so humble and so hardworking, yet living in great poverty. The great Irish group who made all this possible for us. The pride of having brought a little piece of our great Irish culture to a corner of the world so far away from where it all began.

Mairead Casey, Lanesboro, Co Longford,
and Mick Mulkerrin, Ashbourne, Co Meath


Down from the mountain

Pinky Ponky in Pontoon

I have a fantasy about ceili in wellingtons. At a Claddagh Hall ceili in Galway recently I got a chance to see a set dancing friend of mine dance in wellies. However it did not seem like the real thing because he hadn't got the track of the wellington on his leg. It was Willie Burke's birthday bash and we had great fun. It took all the seriousness out of ceili. Some people would say that ceili isn't serious at all. While I'd agree with them wholeheartedly there are people who can be serious about their steps. I am not crazy about serious set dancers. Then there are those people who keep on asking, 'What's next? What's next?' as if their life depended on it. I remember when I was new to ceili and I didn't know what was next. It was a great excuse to hang in close so as I wouldn't go astray in the set. Unfortunately they all escaped from me sooner or later.

Teeth marks in the floor are a sign of a good ceili Timmy McCarthy told me at the Galway International weekend. While the craic was great in Galway the only teeth marks I noticed were on somebody's neck Sunday morning. I didn't pretend to notice but the same person told me she had been conferred with a PhD in polkas after Timmy's excellent workshop and she didn't have to go to Cork or Kerry for that either.

Matt Cunningham played Saturday night in Pontoon (the Newport weekend) and you had to be very fast on the draw to get on the floor. He said it was 'old talk' that the numbers were down at ceili and I believe him. However if it gets much better we won't stick it! There was somebody 'offside' during the Connemara set. It's a Donegal expression for flatulence at ceili. While we couldn't identify the culprit we knew what he had for his evening meal. This narrowed it down a bit more for us. There were not that many restaurants or hotels in Pontoon that served beans that evening. I always fancied myself as a private eye. However in this case it would have to be private nose, or should I say public nose and everybody got their share of it. It was all over the place. Somebody was pinky ponky in Pontoon.

I sat down beside two set dancers for a breath of fresh air.

'Are you Jim and Beatrice's daughter?' I asked.

'Yes, I am.'

'You're as handsome as your mother and father,' I said. 'Are you Paddy and Nora's daughter?'

'Yes, I am,' she replied.

'You're as handsome as your mother and father. Do you know me?' I asked.

'All we know about you is that your name is Highstepper and you used to wear white wellingtons!'

Highstepper


Letters and emails

Musical thanks from Sudbury

Dear Bill,

I would like to thank all of those who attended St George's Centre on 19th March for our set dance ceili, particularly Geoff Holland for arranging for Swallows Tail to provide the music.

The dance was to raise funds for St George's School, Sudbury, to enable us to purchase instruments for the beginners who attend Irish traditional music lessons with Brendan Mulkere on Thursday evenings.

These young children aged five and above are ready to move onto mandolins, flutes and fiddles, by providing a stock of instruments the children will have the opportunity to really find out which instrument they would like to develop.

I hope you enjoyed the evening and thank you once again for helping to develop traditional music in a new generation of children.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Morrissey, Headteacher
St George's RC First and Middle School
Sudbury, Harrow, Middlesex


Report from Portmagee

Dear Bill

I feel I must write to you after seeing the ad for the Portmagee dance workshop in Set Dancing News. This was my first time in South Kerry and I received a great welcome from the organisers Gerard Kennedy and Beryl Stracey. A session was in progress on the Friday night of my arrival at the Bridge Bar - traditional music played by local men Paddy and Séamus. Great sets.

Saturday morning into the workshop with Jim Barry and Betty McCoy, two old friends. Enjoyed learning the Killyon, Mayo Lancers, Clare Orange and Green - great dancing in the last one, most enjoyable.

Then into dinner at the Bridge and more dancing to Paddy and Séamus, also guest accordion Gerry McCarthy from West Cork, a man whose music would draw the most tired of dancers on to the floor. To bed that night tired and delighted.

Up Sunday morning and off to Mass with music in the church, then back to a session held at the Bridge - Michael Tubridy, Ned O'Sé, young local musicians and some visiting musicians, Americans from New Mexico, I believe. Step dancing by Celine and Michael Tubridy, Chris Gleeson and John Creed. Hard to leave the session when the ceili started in the Community Centre. Tim Joe and Anne Riordan played great music and Jim Barry called the sets that had been learned and many more were danced as well.

Returning then to dinner and another session of sets in the Bridge - once again the music was so good it put us all dancing. The entertainment was non-stop and the company was great. I will try to go again next year I enjoyed it so much.

Thanks for producing your magazine. Much success to you in the future.

Yours,

John Oliver, Shrewsbury, Shropshire


West Limerick Set Dancing Workshop

'West Limerick Set Dancing' is a bit of a misnomer - in fact we draw our membership also from North Kerry. The current chairman, Milie Costello, happens to be a Kerryman as was his predecessor, so the name is only one of convenience. As long as it promotes the spread of set dancing nobody cares what it is called.

Our eighth annual workshop took place in Abbeyfeale on 5th, 6th and 7th March and in typically unbiased fashion we regard it as one of our best.

Each year there is a considerable amount of pre-workshop nerves as others will testify. With a substantial outlay at stake the usual questions recur - Will the crowds turn up? Will it be a success? Will those present enjoy themselves?

Ever since the irreplaceable Connie Ryan set the wheels in motion in 1992 it always seems to turn out right in the end. We have shuttled between Newcastle West, Templeglantine and Abbeyfeale in the meantime and we are now satisfied we have found a first class venue in the Convent Hall, Abbeyfeale, where the general consensus seems to be one of complete satisfaction.

We have been hosting ceilis there for the past couple of years, where its excellent catering facilities, fine floor and satisfactory acoustics are natural bonuses. Need I mention the lack of dust which bedevils many ceili venues and pay tribute to the ladies who hoover the floor before every ceili!

Over the years Betty McCoy has been the constant factor, her calmness and experience always reassuring those in charge that she will see the highest standards prevail. This year she was accompanied by Jim Barry on his debut with us, and what a wise choice he was.

Initially patrons asked, 'Jim who?' But Jim, it transpired, has a pedigree dating back over the years as one of Connie Ryan's Slievenamon set dancers. We tried to make a Limerickman out of him only to be assured he came from over the border in Castleisland and was now an expatriate Kerryman living in Dublin!

It is fair to say that Jim proved himself to be a first class instructor. Even though given a menu of recently presented set he waded through them effortlessly. His easygoing manner, strong sense of humour and unobtrusive helping hand for those labouring a little ensured that the vast majority of those present turned up again for the Sunday morning workshop.

To those who feared for the future of set dancing on Connie's demise, one need look no farther than Jim Barry as a worthy addition to the many fine instructors out there who are carrying on the great tradition.

On behalf of the organising committee a sincere thanks to the many who traveled from places as far flung as Wexford, Kilkenny, Galway, Roscommon, etc, as well as our steadfast supporters from the Munster counties. We hope you took away at least some happy memories. We may even have the pleasure of your company at some of the many upcoming ceilis, even at our first workshop of the new millennium, 3rd, 4th and 5th March 2000 AD. Once again the instructors will be Jim Barry and Betty McCoy.

Enough said!

Timmy Woulfe, Gortnagross, Athea, Co Limerick


The Half-Door Club Song

chorus
If you ever go to Ireland a treat you have in store,
    And if you're into dancing the treat is ten times more.
    So polish up your dancing shoes, pack your T-shirts by the score,
    And with the Half-Door dancers be sure and take the floor.
1
If to the centre of the country you happen for to roam,
    You may stumble on the place that these dancers they call home.
    It's there that you'll find music, there'll be dancing and be song,
    You might even hear them say 'a light heart lives long.'
After the day's work we're glad to take a break,
    If we hear a reel or jig we'll find a floor to flake,
    Inspired by the music we'll make the rafters shake,
    With the chorus of the dawn 'tis home our way we'll make.
chorus
2
Our major celebration is in the month of May,
    After the sowing, before the turf and hay.
    Reels, jigs and polkas, it's then that they hold sway,
    Solid for the weekend, there's dancing night and day.
From all parts of the country and even from beyond,
    Dancers they do gather and form a common bond.
    The beauty in the dancing they willingly do share,
    Raising all our hearts ar aghaidh leis an misteir.
chorus
3
The village of Castletown and Sheeran's of Coolrain
    Echo to the battering of the Cashel and the Plain.
    The waterfall sounds different, the cows don't moo the same
    When dancing and sweet music you add to their refrain.
Dancing is a pastime that's been there since time began,
    We've been reeling and been jigging since before Adam was a man.
    It puts us in good humour, it makes our troubles fly,
    It's great to soothe our mood - we'll dance until we die!
chorus

Andrew O'Connell, Co Laois


From the borders of Galway and Mayo

As one living on the borders of both Galway and Mayo, travelling on average within an eighty mile radius to ceilis approximately twice a week, I would have seen the sporadic changes that have taken place in the supporters of ceilis over the last number of years. The number of people attending ceilis reached an all time high about five years ago where many of the halls were packed to capacity, following this it started to decline somewhat and now the numbers have leveled off at a very comfortable number. There are of course some exceptions like some of the workshop weekends, one of which being operated in this area by Maura and Mary Bohan. Perhaps of course the reason for such a large attendance at their workshops being that they are great supporters themselves and are excellent teachers of set dancing. They also operate as a very good team with Maura (Mary's mother) teaching beginners and Mary then taking over to teach the finer details. Perhaps another reason for their success is they always have the top quality bands and never hold a workshop session without the ever popular Michael Sexton, which in this author's opinion always gives a lovely blend of music at just the right pace.

One the subject of bands, a new rookie this season is Earls Chair, which contains some familiar faces of old. Having heard them recently in McCarthy's, Kilbeacanty one could only say that their music was superb. They made no secret of the fact that this was their first performance together, however if their standards are the same in all venues then they will be in large demand in the future. The band consists of five members, two of which are ladies. The instruments that were used on this occasion were - drums, fiddle, banjo, accordion and guitar. There are however many top quality bands that are operating in this part of Ireland, those including Heather Breeze, Glenside Ceili Band and Abbey Ceili Band.

To return to the subject of ceilis, having read in this magazine about the Miltown Malbay, and Ballina Fleadh in this magazine in the opinion of this author although the event in Ballina was enjoyable, the week in Miltown Malbay was much more satisfying from a dancer's perspective. The reason for this being that many of the musicians that travel to the Fleadh do so to enter competitions, whereas at Miltown Malbay they come for the joy of playing. Also you in Miltown Malbay you will always have the choice of attending ceilis where the sets are called and where they are not. If you want to find them both under the same roof then the Armada is your place.

The final thing that this author would like to mention on the subject of ceilis is the local Kilconly Crossroads Ceili. The location of Kilconly for anyone who has never been is six miles north-west of Tuam, Co Galway. This is an annual event that is held every year on the Sunday of the May Bank Holiday Weekend (this year's date is 2nd May). In saying crossroads ceili however it does not mean that you will be dancing on the road as there is a very large floor of plywood erected next to the community centre. In previous years this has comfortably held 35 sets with plenty of room left over. Anyone who has ever attended this even has always returned and even in the event that the day will be wet the community centre will be on standby. This year the Heather Breeze Ceili Band will be performing and if their quality of music is at the same level as it was on their last occasion here them everyone should go home very satisfied. The ceili starts at 3pm and runs until 7pm. This event will also be broadcast live on the Internet on the day so anyone who cannot attend can capture the atmosphere by visiting the website at www.kilconly.com. This is the first time any ceili has ever been broadcast live on the Internet so it possible many of you will here much more about it. The organisers would however appeal to everyone to attend the event however as all of the funds raised on the day are being donated to Our Lady's Hospital For Sick Children, Crumlin. Anyone who wants anymore information on this event can contact Tony Burke.

Tony Burke


The Mick and Pat Show debuts in Tralee

The set dancing workshops at Paddy Hanafin's Shindig by the Windmill in January were as good as workshops can get. Mick Mulkerrin and Pat Murphy shared teaching responsibilities and while both are excellent teachers on their own, together they bring an entirely new dimension to set dancing - comedy!

The two teachers handled the workshop by taking turns, one teaching with the microphone while the other danced opposite in the demonstration set.

Mick was dangerous with the microphone. On Saturday morning he started off by slagging Pat over the success of his book, Toss the Feathers, which is an essential part of every set dancer's library. The hotel hosting the weekend, the Earl of Desmond, proudly displays a white Rolls Royce parked beside the main door for all to see, and Mick asked if everyone had noticed it.

'Murphy bought that with his first royalty cheque from Toss the Feathers,' he said.

It was all in good fun and helped put us in proper frame of mind for dancing. When it was Pat's turn to teach Mick was without the microphone so we just got down to the business of dancing.

Later with Mick back in charge he asked us all to make note of the huge wrought iron chandelier hanging over the ballroom. 'Murphy has one just like it in his bedroom.'

On Sunday, Mick was in his element and started firing jokes non-stop. Again, Pat's book was subject to assault when Mick revealed that he often reads Toss the Feathers in bed.

'Two pages and it puts me right to sleep,' he joked.

Mick even gave a critique of literary style used in the book. Pat's explanations of dances were clear and efficient, Mick told us, but failed to get across important essentials. He used the fourth figure of the Mayo Lancers, Póigín (the kiss), as an example.

'In Murphy's notes his instructions are Advance, Kiss, Retire, Swing. If I were to write a book I'd put more feeling into it-

'Advance, looking meaningfully into the eyes of the opposite person, then kiss fully on the lips with passion,' he said. Mick's version of the Mayo Lancers would be for consenting adults only!

When Pat regained control of the microphone, he revealed the truth about the white Rolls Royce.

'Sales of his tape have gone so well that Mick has put a down payment on it. My own car is parked in the boot.' Mick was somewhat annoyed that whenever he teaches his own version of a set, dancers come to him afterward and say, 'but that's not what it says in Toss the Feathers, or Pat Murphy says you do it this way.'

Continuing on, Mick was envious of Pat's apparent popularity with the ladies. 'They're always saying, isn't Pat Murphy wonderful? It's Pat Murphy this, Pat Murphy that! How does he do it? Where could I find out how to become so popular?'

Pat took the microphone. 'If you have to search for it you haven't got it,' he replied perfectly on cue and we were all in stitches.

Pat Murphy wasn't Mick's only victim. Tony Ryan teaches sets in Galway and was dancing with an American friend over the weekend. At dinner on Saturday night Mick tapped his glass to get everyone's attention, stood and made an announcement congratulating Tony and his 'bride' who had come to Tralee from their honeymoon in Hawaii.

Paddy Hanafin returned to the Mayo Lancers theme at the ceili on Sunday when he said that Mick had announced that the sequel to Steps for Sets would be called Steps for Sex with an uncut version of the Mayo Lancers and that he would be auditioning suitable dancers in his room later.

All the amusement from the Mick and Pat Show put everyone in a great frame of mind for dancing. The weekend had music by the Abbey Ceili Band, Michael Sexton and Donie Nolan, all superb and enjoyed to the full by the dancers, many of whom were attracted all the way from England and the US.

Saturday night was particularly crowded because not only was there a large crowd at the ceili, but the hotel hosted a wedding party for 400 in a room nearby. The car parks were completely filled and cars lined the main road outside for nearly half a mile. Paddy Hanafin has been assured that dancers will have exclusive use of the hotel at next year's Shindig.

Pat Murphy says he was taken by surprise by Mick's barrage of jokes this year. He promises to be better prepared next year, so look out Mick! And we've another great weekend to look forward to.

Bill Lynch

While the author has tried to be accurate in recounting Mick's and Pat's jokes, the quotations appearing in this article are not necessarily the actual words spoken at the time. Photos from the weekend are in Photo album 27 and Photo album 28.


New Zealand in 2000

Destinations for set dancers are becoming ever more exotic, with events in Spain, New Jersey and Slough described elsewhere in these pages, but a tour to New Zealand planned for March next year will take dancers farther than they've ever been before!

The man behind the tour is Tom McNamara, a native of Craughwell, Co Galway, who is long established in New Zealand. The idea first arose last year at a ceili in McCarthy's, Kilbeacanty, a popular venue in Co Galway. The initial reaction was so positive that Tom decided to advertise in Set Dancing News and so far more than 100 have people have responded and fifty have already confirmed. Tom is limiting the total to 200 because of available airline seats and accommodation, and he expects to have no problem filling the tour.

Tom has been involved in Irish promotions in New Zealand for over forty years. He founded the Rose of Tralee there and escorted the NZ Rose and planeloads of expats home for many years. In 1995 he founded the Auckland Irish Festival, a week of Irish music, dance and films. Its St Patrick's parade is said to be the first in the world and the largest parade in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tom has been a keen dancer all his life and returns home regularly to add to his repertoire of sets. His wife and three daughters were all born in New Zealand but the daughters have now set up a business in Galway.

Further news of Tom's tour to New Zealand will appear in future issues. Interested participants should contact Tom.


Malahide Miscellany

As usual, I enjoyed another set dancing weekend in Malahide [Co Dublin, in the Grand Hotel, 15-17 January 1999]. Although the crowds seemed to be smaller than last year, the atmosphere was still as bouyant as ever, and you had only to look at people's expressions to know they were happy.

I arrived a bit late on Saturday morning, but was just in time to find a partner for Pat Murphy's first set. He introduced us to the Killyon Set from Offaly, quite an energetic mix of jigs and polkas. We had enough time to re-fuel with a cup of coffee at breaktime before he launched into the second set, the Borlin Jenny. I had heard that this was a particularly lovely set, and I must say I agree. Pat gave us the version he learned from Olive Lynch. It's mainly reels, which probably explains my liking for it!

You would imagine with the fine attendance at all the workshops-held by Pat, Aidan Vaughan, Celine Tubridy, and Seamus O'Mealoid-that there'd be a bit of tiredness in people by the evening. I saw no signs of it anyway and the dancers, including myself, moved happily between the two ballrooms, having Michael Sexton and Matt Cunningham to entertain them.

I found myself on time for next morning's workshop with Mick Mulkerrin. Mick and his partner, Mairead Casey, went through the Cavan Reel, and though the movement of the two figures isn't complicated, maintaining the step throughout always adds a bit of a twist. We had great craic in our set trying to get it. Mick and Mairead then demonstrated a few Clare-style steps from their video, Steps for Sets, filmed last year in Vaughan's pub, Kilfenora. The class finished with a few figures from the Mayo Lancers, with pointers from Mickey Kelly and some of the other dancers from Mayo nearby.

Betty McCoy and all of her helpers again deserve a clap on the back for another successful weekend. May there be many more.

Peggy Doherty, Dublin

The annual gathering came around so quickly and as always Malahide launched our set dancing year. Time to shake off the pud and the cake and detox fully in the Caledonian or the Plain.

For the first time we stayed in the Grand, rather than driving home late. It meant we were close to the action at all times and Friday night's dancing was as good as any. This year we were trying hard to improve our steps and there was a varied choice of teachers and classes. All was well until Sunday morning when we met the dreaded Cavan Reel-not so bad dancing on the spot, but try going forwards or worse still backwards!

As always we loved Mick Mulkerrin's loose, relaxed style of dancing and when he's teaching a set that soft brogue has every pupil in the palm of his hand. Matt Cunningham provided his usual ceol upstairs-there was comfort and space to dance and detox was easy indeed. At Mass we paused to remember Connie and others-time to honour the legacy of a man who 'rests in peace in green Clonoulty' but who surely dances still through all his followers.

Yes we had fun and frolics
And friends facing into a set
Roll on the year 2000
Going to Malahide again . . . you bet!

PS - I couldn't finish without thanking Bill Lynch for providing us all with a common meeting ground - this magazine. Long ago in Ireland it was 'dancing at the crossroads' but Bill has us interacting on the superhighway and on to the crossroads of the world. Continued success Mr Editor.

Kay O'Rourke, Celbridge, Co Kildare

There are three photos from Malahide in Photo album 26.


A weekend of magic

We had been to one of Pádraig and Roisín McEneany's weekend in Priddy (Somerset, England) before and when Marilyn told us about the weekend in Paris we quickly decided to go.

And it was brilliant!

It was a crisp and sunny winter day. Pádraig and Roisín had come with their friends Mary Conboy, Mary McGowan both from Sligo, Sharon from Dublin and Tami who had flown all the way from Washington DC for the weekend! She actually won 'the longest travelling distance' prize on the occasion. Pádraig and Roisín charmed us again with their dancing. We enjoyed their excellent teaching skills and also their kindness and great sense of humour.

We started by practising the steps (reels, jigs and polka) in a circle. Then Pádraig explained that we were going to do the Fermanagh Quadrilles (from Cashel and Belcoo) to give us an idea of the variety of steps and rhythms (reels and jigs) present in Irish set dancing. This was followed by the Monaghan set (reels, jigs, polka, hornpipe).

Somehow the Irish magic operated and filled the need for translation. The 50 odd French present at the workshop started to experience the beauty, variety and warmth of Irish set dancing.

In the evening we all met up for an indoor picnic preceding the concert with the Quartet en l'Air, Michel Nomine, Christian Pacher, David Cousineau, Alexandre Benoist, violonists from the Poitou in France and of the Irish music represented by Maire O'Keeffe (violin), Jackie Daly (melodeon) and Paul de Brae (guitar). This was bliss and gave us the chance to rest our feet while lifting our souls.

On Sunday at 9.30am, Pádraig and Roisín broke us in gently with the Black Valley Jig Set (Cork/Kerry border) which inevitably speeded up after the first few figures. The beginners group then joined us and we danced the Labasheeda (Clare) together.

The weekend ended with a 'bal', a ceili with Maire O'Keeffe, Jackie Daly, Paul de Brae, Quartet en l'Air, Gilles Poutoux, Benoit Chantran, J Christophe Lequerre and Ronan Guilcher.

This was really a magic weekend. A chance to relax and to make friends. Josiane the organiser said, 'we hope that something will happen during this weekend.'

And it did!

Catherine, a French lady who used to dance at the Irish Centre in Camden, London, and also in Priddy, told us how much she was missing Irish set dancing back in Paris.

A student from Rennes in Brittany was just charming, hopping around in the Breton way when dancing the house.

Clothilde had dragged her boyfriend Damien along. She had been on holiday in Ireland and knew this would be fun!

Mary's laugh - definitely Irish. She lives in Luxembourg. Claude, a French sports teacher talking about her work said, 'children need to talk and be listened to.'

When we said good bye to Isabelle from Paris after the ball her blue eyes were twinkling. 'Just like the Irish,' said Marilyn, 'their eyes always twinkle!'

I tell you it was just magic!

 

Un weekend magique

Nous etions deja alles à un atelier de danse avec Pádraig et Roisín McEneany a Priddy (Somerset, Angleterre) et quand Marilyn nous a parlé du weekend a Paris nous avons rapidement decide d'y aller.

Et c'etait genial!

C'était une belle journée d'hiver à la fois froide et ensoleillée. Pádraig et Roisín étaient venus avec leur amies Mary Conboy, Mary McGowan, toutes les deux de Sligo, Sharon de Dublin et Tami qui était venue en avion de Washington DC, elle a d'ailleurs remporte "le prix du plus long voyage." Pádraig et Roisín nous ont tous charmés encore une fois avec leur danse. Et nous avons aussi beaucoup apprecié leur pedagogie et bien sur sans oublier leur gentillesse et leur excellent sens de l'humour.

Nous avons commencé à pratiquer les pas (reels, jigs, polka) en cercle. Puis Pádraig a explique que nous ferions le Fermanagh Quadrilles (Cashel/Belcoo) afin de nous donner une idee de la diversite des pas et des rythmes qui existent dans le Irish Set Dancing. Ensuite nous avons appris le Monaghan set (reels, jigs, polka, hornpipe).

Et la magie irlandaise a operé, si bien que le besoin de traduction ne s'est pas fait sentir. Les quelques 50 Francais presents a l'atelier ont commence a faire l'experience de la beauté, la varieté et la chaleur (dans les deux sens du mots!) de la danse irlandaise.

Le samedi soir nous nous sommes tous retrouvés pour un "picnic d'interieur" precedent le concert avec Maire O'Keeffe (violon), Jackie Daly (diatonique), Paul de Brae (guitare) et le Quartet en l'Air venu du Poitou, Michel Nomine, Christian Pacher, David Cousineau, Alexandre Benoist. Ce fut un bonheur et cela nous donna l'occasion de delasser nos pieds tout en divertissant nos âmes.

Le dimanche matin a 9h30, Pádraig et Roisín nous ont reveillé gentiment avec le Black Valley jig set (Cork/Kerry) qui bien sur accelera apres les quelques premieres figures.

Le weekend s'est enfin termine par un bal/ceili avec Maire O'Keeffe, Jackie Daly, Paul de Brae, Quartet en l'Air, Gilles Poutoux, Benoit Chantran, J Christophe Lequerre et Ronan Guilcher.

C'etait vraiment un weekend magique. L'occasion de se detendre et de faire des rencontres -

Josiane, organisatrice, "on espere qu'il se passera des choses au cours de ce weekend."

Catherine, Francaise qui allait danser au Centre Irlandais de Camden a Londres et a Priddy (Somerset, Angleterre) quand elle habitait en Angleterre nous a dit combien la danse irlandaise lui manquait maintenant qu'elle etait de retour en France.

Une jeune Rennaise, etudiante a Paris, etait tout simplement charmante quand elle sautillait a la maniere bretonne en dansant le "house".

Clothilde avait entraine son copain Damien a ces ateliers. Elle avait passe des vacances en Irlande et savait que ce weekend ne serait pas triste!

Le rire de Mary, Irlandaise du Luxembourg...

Claude, prof de sport, parlant de son travail, "les enfants ont besoin de parler et d'etre ecoutes."

Quand on a dit au revoir à Isabelle de Paris apres le bal, ses yeux bleus petillaient. "Exactement comme ceux des Irlandais," me dit Marilyn, "leurs yeux petillent tout le temps!"

Je ne vous dis que ça!

C'était tout simplement magique!

Estelle Cronin

See three photographs in Photo album 28.


Down from the mountain

Getting the right telephone number

Please don't talk to me about jokes at a ceili. There is a guy down our way whose jokes are like his dancing, very sharp, witty and always going in the wrong direction, everything from recyclable condoms to topless set dancing. The latter might have been innocent because the building in which the ceili held was the only part that was topless. However his jokes are not for all the family, and the one about the guy overheard on his mobile at a ceili describing what was available is a bit of a hairy one.

While I missed the Malahide weekend, I arrived in the Haringey Irish Centre in London N17. They have a new dance floor there which I hadn't seen before. It was great to dance on but I wouldn't be a big connoisseur of floors like some set dancers, who like the Pope when arrive at a ceili kneel down and kiss the floor, and if it has passed their test give the thumbs up sign to their friends. If it's not the floor, it's the sound system, the heat, or the guy on drums or guitar, but there is always something. However this night was almost perfect except the band didn't show up! Tom O'Connell and the local musicians made up for it though, and we had good fun. I got a telephone number too, but it was a wrong number.

Later in Laois I danced to the Abbey Ceili Band in Castletown Community Centre which was a real treat. Ger Murphy, the box player with the band, told me that they live 120 miles the far side of Cork City. So it's no wonder that we don't get to dance to them that often. I've never been on speed but dancing to the Abbey Ceili Band must be a bit like it. It was only a short trip to their next ceili the following day at Baldonnel Airport in the aerodrome.

Looking for ceilis at airports is a new adventure, especially if you're running low on fuel. Just as well I wasn't flying in. I would have had to crash land, probably hit the aerodrome and the ceili would have to be cancelled. Somebody had the ceili signposted - fair play to them, may all their ceilis be good ones! Anyway the ceili was the best one I've been at in a good while and there were twenty sets. The compère for the evening, Sé McGovern, told us that set dancing makes you younger, and after that ceili I could well believe it.

I got a telephone number too. The next day I rang up excited and asked for C Lyons as she told me.

'I'm sorry, I think somebody is having a bit of a joke on you. This is Dublin Zoo!'

Highstepper


Jack Grogan

Bill, a chara

It is with profound regret that we learned of the death of Jack Grogan to whom we are eternally grateful for the Killyon Set. Jack left this world to join the heavenly set on Sunday February 7th. Mar a sheinn an píobaire nuair a tógadh a chorp isteach sa séipéal i mBiorra, 'Taímse in choladh is má dúisfear mé.' Ar dheis Dé go rabh a anam dhílis.

Thank you, Bill, keep well.

Maureen Culleton


Channel Island sets

The craic in Guernsey A small group has been dancing sets for nearly two years on the Island of Guernsey, where they had never been danced before. Jan Falla leads the class in an Irish pub and she usually gets enough people to make up one set, but if not they dance a half set. Musicians occasionally attend the session and one of the group plays fiddle when she's not required to dance.

Jan saw set dancing on a visit to Ireland and went home with some instructional videos and a determination to start up a group. She advertised in the local paper and found eight dancers and a welcoming pub landlord. The group has an interesting repertoire of sets and has even given public performances. They've also been featured in the local paper. Jan travels regularly to England and Ireland where she attends classes and workshops to collect dances and teaching tips. But the Guernsey dancers feel somewhat isolated and would welcome contact with other dancers and teachers. Jan's class is on Thursday at 8pm in Blind O'Reilly's Pub, Bridge, St Sampsons.


Dublin teachers cooperate to expand repertoire

Teachers from all classes in Dublin and as far south as Laois met or were represented at a meeting held over the holiday period where they agreed to broaden the base of dances at céilithe. At present, Ireland's capital city has up to thirty set dancing teachers with 35 classes or more, all of which work mainly in isolation. On January 4th a very positive group of teachers established the principle of working together to expand the core of dances at our céilithe. For the first time ever a precedent of co-operation has been set. Six fairly well known dances, five sets and one céilí dance, were chosen. The aim is to teach these dances at our classes and then to dance them more often at our céilithe so that all dance enthusiasts will enjoy more variety and have a greater repertoire by June 1999. The group further agreed to circulate to their members a list containing dates of all céilithe in Dublin.

During January and February the Labasheeda, West Kerry and Connemara Jig sets will be danced more frequently, while March and April will see the Eight-hand Jig as well as the Durrow Threshing and Clare Orange and Green sets at our céilithe. May and June will be used for consolidation of the 'revised core' which could include up to fourteen dances.

What next? The group will meet again on September 6th to review the scheme.

Your views on this project as well as ideas for the next step will be welcomed.

Eileen O'Doherty

The list of all céilithe in Dublin is included in the Ireland listings. The teachers attending the meeting are pictured in Photo album 26.


Michael Sexton's Mad to Dance

Michael Sexton's eagerly awaited second recording of music for set dancing is now available. Michael and his ceili band play some of the best music for set dancing and are probably the most popular band with dancers everywhere. Appropriately, the new album is called Mad to Dance and is available on CD and tape. Four well-chosen favourite sets are included on it, the Clare Lancers, Cashel, Labasheeda and Clare Orange and Green.

The name of the album was suggested by Michael's wife Betty, who doesn't dance often enough for her liking - her husband is always playing music when she attends a ceili! Both recordings by the Michael Sexton Ceili Band are available by post directly from Betty.

Four sets on The Derry Boat

Dancers in the north of Ireland have enjoyed dancing sets to the music the Gleann an Iolair Ceili Band for many years now, and with the release of a new CD of music for set dancing everyone can now enjoy their music.

Gleann an Iolair (Glen of the Eagle) is the Irish name for Glenullin, a parish in Co Derry which is home to a family of musicians, the Boylans. They first played for a ceili in 1986 and today four members of the family play with the band, Maeve, Silé, Clóda and Ruairí, together with friends Joanne O'Connor and Liam Bradley. They are playing for ceilis on 13 February and 8 May which are detailed in the events listings.

Their new CD, The Derry Boat, was recorded in response to requests from set dancers. The lively music is arranged for four popular sets, the Baile Bhúirne Jig, Cashel, Newport and Plain sets. The recording is available directly from Maeve Close in Co Derry, and dancers in North America can order it from her brother Turlach Boylan in Houston.


Excellent value in the Catskills

For set dancers in the northeastern US and eastern Canada, just say, 'The Catskills,' and our feet start twitching. Over the past number of years, this traditional resort area north of New York City has played host to a number of Irish dance and music weekends, all of them memorable.

Last October, this stalwart legion of set dance fanatics converged on the Grand Nevele Hotel for Hallowe'en weekend. The organizers of a long-standing Irish cabaret-style event, the Gertrude Byrne Weekend, had seen fit to add set dancing and traditional music to its suite of entertainment and activities - along with top-flight instructors, great music, and decent dance floors. And that's enough incentive to make a person (well, actually, nine of us) drive fourteen hours from Nova Scotia just for a weekend!

From Friday afternoon through until Sunday, it was a set dancer's heaven with back to back and concurrent ceilis featuring Esker Riada and P J Hernon and Swallows Tail from Ireland, and the Boston Comhaltas Band and the Pete Kelly Ceili Band from this side of the water. Guest instructor Pádraig McEneany and local set dance organizer Paul Keating called the ceilis and, to the delight of many, incorporated some of the less frequently danced sets such as the Monaghan, the Aran, and the Fermanagh into the traditional line-up of favourites.

While Paul handled the beginner set dance sessions, Pádraig and his wife, Roisín, took the more experienced dancers through the Fermanagh Quadrilles and the Shramore sets. (From a dancer's perspective, the only criticism would be the relative lack of workshop time over the weekend, a shortcoming no doubt already brought to the attention of the organizers.)

Of course, you can't expect a bunch of Celts to ignore Hallowe'en, and the Saturday night reception and ceili was its own show as folks came dressed for the occasion, so to speak. Later in the evening, we were treated to a special dance demonstration by a set of gents and their lovely 'ladies,' and for some of us, the Caledonian may never be the same!

Speaking as someone known to travel significant distances to go set dancing, the Grand Nevele weekends offer excellent value for money. The accommodations are comfortable, functional, and reasonably priced, the meals generous and the service courteous and efficient. The 'all-in' Club Med approach to pricing means just one bill at the end of the weekend, split between how many ever folks you managed to squeeze into your room. And, of course, bringing over the best of instructors and bands makes any decision to 'hit the road' - even just for a weekend - easy.

Elizabeth MacDonald
Halifax, Nova Scotia

What a relief

William Lynch -

I am writing because I understand you are interested in hearing how people liked the Irish Weekend in Ellenville. I had a great time due in large part to the classes with Pádraig and Roisín McEneany and having them call the figures during some of the regular dances. As a relatively new devotee of the Irish set dancing I can use all the help I can get. I was quite frankly nervous about attending the weekend event wondering if I would be able to enjoy the dances where I didn't know that many sets. What a relief to have them called.

Wonderful music, friendly people, excellent instruction, and good food, what more could one ask for? It was a wonderful time and I'm looking forward to the next weekend.

Judith Armstrong

The next Grand Nevele weekend is 23-25 April 1999. Donie Nolan and the Four Courts are travelling over to provide music and Mick Mulkerrin will teach the sets. Take a look at some photos from the weekend in Photo album 23.


John's magical mystery tour

The Dorking Express The Mystery Weekend is a set dancing, sightseeing and fun filled bus tour organised annually in October by John Vaughan of Kilfenora, Co Clare. In previous years John has taken a busload of dancers to Wexford, Kerry and Waterford.

The mystery of the weekend is that nobody knows either the route or the final destination of the tour, apart from John. The only information available was that our accommodation was a grade A hotel with sauna, swimming pool and leisure centre.

For weeks dancers speculated about the location, and much fun was had by the addition of a draw whereby over a hundred place names of towns and villages across Ireland, some of which hardly had a house, were displayed on cards around the Barn, John's dance hall in Kilfenora. Anybody, whether going or not, could buy a placename and if it turned out to be the correct location would win a whopping £30. All residual profits were to be usefully exchanged for refreshments over the weekend. Note, John refused a bribe of £50 to disclose the destination - not from me!

The Dorking Express ('Dorking' was emblazoned on the back of the coach) departed Kilfenora on Friday afternoon and having collected some happy twinkletoed revellers en route, John Vaughan's smiling face greeted the last of the fifty plus entourage in Galway before heading wherever? On board were the now infamous Four Courts Ceili Band so we were almost definitely guaranteed at least one Caledonian Set.

As we traversed the road network around the City of the Tribes, the mystery heightened at each roundabout. Would it be Westport or Sligo or would John have had our spiritual interests at heart and take the N17 to Knock? There was short odds on Connemara and as we turned 'west along the road' one wondered, where in Connemara? Or, could we continue up the scenic route to Westport or Sligo? There was even a whisper of Donegal!

By now, John, donning his MC's hat summoned many of his 'travelling roadshow' artistes to render a ditty or a verse of a song, and what a contrast the rendition of Lovely Harvest Day and The Fields of Athenry were to the misty rain of a soft late autumn evening on the graded stretches of the Connemara Trail! Like any true MC, John entertained us with a couple of verses of 'the Bonny Boy is young, but he's grow-ow-ow-ow-ing.'

It was 7.15pm as we approached the town of Clifden and speculation mirrored with doubt ensued. John intimated that he had 'something to collect' as we rounded the corner onto the platform in front of what once was the old terminus building of the Galway-Clifden railway line. After many failed attempts to establish a railway link between Galway and Clifden this line opened in 1895 but was to fall victim to the economics of the time and the growing popularity of motorised transport, finally closing in 1935. Idle and hidden from view, it was recently rediscovered and the old terminus building now forms the nucleus of the Station House Hotel. The last train may have departed more than 63 years ago but the Dorking Express was now approaching. Heads were turning, mutterings were heard. Is this it? When Bernie, one of the dancers on the bus, was pronounced the worthy winner of the princely sum of £30, yes, we'd arrived!

With check-in taking on the clockwork pattern of the trains that once shunted on the tracks outside, we were soon ensconced in our rooms and preparing for our first night on the tiles. Our arrival in Connemara's capital didn't change the habits of a lifetime as the Clarefolk were soon advancing and retiring to the dulcet tones of the Four Courts in what was to be the first of many Caledonian sets to be danced over the weekend. Despite all the travelling, the thought of an early night didn't get airspace as we set danced, jived, waltzed and even attempted to 'shoe the donkey.'

The Station House bar was reminiscent of many traditional Irish pubs and the old railway memorabilia, locomotive photographs and original train tickets created it's prominent railway theme. It may not have been the West Clare railway but as we struggled with the lyrics of Are you right there, Michael? (amongst many other bar-room ballads), I'm sure Percy French would have nodded in agreement as we vowed to bring along the song books next time!

On Saturday morning, after a hearty breakfast, we were off to explore the tourists' paradise of Connemara. Enchanted by the rugged mountains mingled with sparkling lakes that almost engulfed the meandering coastline leading around Kylemore Abbey to Renvyle, Joe Rynne, fiddler with the Four Courts, serenaded us with his Roads around Kylemore. Talents merged as we were treated to some sean-nos songs eloquently intermingled with the old reliable sing-alongs.

Over the mist covered mountains, the gentle and charming local patrons of Breege Diamond's Pub in Renvyle greeted us warmly and enthusiastically. On approaching a gentleman whose attention was firmly fixed on a big screen watching The Nun's Story, he embraced me excitedly as he intimated to me the story of a girl he had 'known well' many years ago.

'But she joined the nuns,' he quipped and was wondering, 'was this her on the big screen?'

He was very anxious to dance and so a 'short waltz' was requested. But when the bow was waxed, the Four Courts' Joe, Mai and Chris didn't know when to stop. Thanks guys! With a little coaxing some of the locals added to the fun and high spirited revelry of the afternoon and the barriers were soon down when a very welcome repast of tea and sandwiches was served.

There was a reticent but observant looking gentleman, whose name I subsequently learned was Jackie Coyne, standing by and I asked, 'Do you dance?'

'Do ye do a set at all?' he replied.

'Ah, sure we do, we'd try anything,' I answered amusingly. 'What set do you do?'

'Do you do the Connemara at all?' he inquired.

And in a flash I mused - is this a Connemara man who dances the Connemara set? A true maestro of 'the' set? Awesome, this must be the icing on the cake.

'Sure, no problem. We'll do the Connemara set.'

'I'll dance with you then?' he prompted.

'Sure you can,' and I thought all my birthdays had come together! Yes, we had met a really true maestro. Did I enjoy that set or what?

A brush was called for and Jackie took to the floor again to give us the traditional brush dance. Seems he's also a bit of a bard as he elegantly recited one of his own poetic compositions. We invited these hearty folk back to the hotel in Clifden for the ceili, but sadly they were unable to join us. Maybe next time.

Back in Clifden, some of the ladies needed some 'further support' for the night's merriment so off they bopped to the lingerie shop 'to shop till they drop.' Oops!

After dinner, hotel staff flurried around laying a floor on the carpet. The Four Courts quickly got into their stride and soon we were tapping out the familiar Caledonian, Plain and Lancers sets. An exhibition of the Barn's doyens of sean nos dancers entertained us before taking to the boards for the Corofin Plain. Any truth in the rumour that Corofin stole that set from Kilfenora? Not satisfied to 'leave the party when things were going well,' the diehards sang and danced till the wee hours.

And, as usual, 'last nights fun' took its toll as Sunday morning dawned all too prematurely. After savouring the delights of 'the cook in the kitchen' and a visit to the local padre, we bade farewell to Clifden and set off to join the 'Bucks of Oranmore.'

During a comfort stop at the Boat Inn in Oughterard a carefully casted consort, shrouded in secrecy, successfully executed a well planned kidnap from the local monastery. Her 'vow of silence' enhanced our lucky escape, our getaway vehicle was on cue and off we fled at high speed leaving behind the highlands and islands of Connemara to fade into its panoramic landscape.

Tí Gearoid in Oranmore provided the intrepid travellers with safe refuge and some tasty energy-restoring fare. With Mai, Joe and Chris set to tinkle the ivories again, enthusiastic dancers took to the floor for yet another Caledonian set. A Plain set followed and before Joe slowed down the tempo for an old time waltz, he called for 'ciunas.'

A word of thanks was extended to John Vaughan. 'When we are enjoying the culmination of a weekend like this, we sometimes overlook all the hard work that has gone into making it a success.' John's vigilant attention to detail was unanimously acclaimed. Sometimes we wondered did he eat or sleep at all, as he was there to greet us in the mornings, was like a guardian angel to us throughout the day and his 'owl like' traits made him the perfect host as he saw most of us off to bed. (Not literally, of course!) Our thanks to a true gentleman.

The mystery of our kidnap in Oughterard was revealed and our victim was released unharmed. John was presented with his very own Reverend Mother. With a roguish smile he assured us that he would find a suitable spot for this porcelain model. A beautifully woven Connemara tweed scarf also comprised our token of gratitude to John. The melodious strains of the Four Courts rounded off a wonderful visit to Tí Gearoid.

This was to be my point of departure but with gentle persuasion I was back on the Dorking Express. Here I was fed to the card sharks of Kilfenora, but hurrah, beginners luck turned up trumps. Our arrival in Vaughans Bar in Kilfenora was like the joyful scene in the parable of the prodigal son as locals welcomed the return of the wandering minstrels.

The magic of scenes from a pop-up story book haunted me as I entered the bewitching winter wonderland of the Barn. Flickering hues of candlelight bedecked this 'theatre of dreams.' As I stood relishing fond memories of my childhood I was snatched from my daydreams to fill a set by the door. Under the influence of a druidic-like Halloween spell, we danced the Connemara set with the apparent weightlessness of budding riverdancers! When John called the last set, the curtain fell on a perfect weekend.

Attracta O'Connor
Salthill, Co Galway

John Vaughan's next Mystery Weekend sets off from Kilfenora on 30 October 1999. Photos of the weekend are in Photo album 25.


There's more to read in the collections of old news and reviews, volumes 11997-1998, 2, 31998-1999, 41999, 51999-2000, 6, 72000, 8, 9, 102001, 112001-2002, 12, 13, 14, 152002, 162002-2003, 17, 18, 192003, 202003-2004, 21, 22, 23, 24, 252004, 262004-2005, 27, 28, 29, 30, 312005, 322005-2006, 33, 34, 35, 36, 372006, 38, 392006-2007, 40, 41, 42, 432007, 442007-2008, 442007-2008, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 502008, 512008-2009, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 572009, 582009-2010, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 652010, 662010–2011, 67, 68, 69, 70, 712011, 722011–2012, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 782012, 792012-2013, 80, 81, 82, 832013, 842013-2014 (Index).

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Bill Lynch   Set Dancing News, Kilfenora, Co Clare, Ireland
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