last updated 23 June 2011
Set Dancing News home page: www.setdancingnews.net

Set Dancing News

Old news and reviews—Volume 64

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).

The Basingstoke revival

The United Nations has recently appointed a scientist to be the official ambassador for the human race in case of an alien visit. Seriously. Now here’s a suggestion—part of the etiquette for making a good impression on them (and we would need to do that, seeing that they have superior technology, being able to travel faster than the speed of light) could be an invitation to a set dancing weekend, and Basingstoke in England might be just the place to facilitate an affair of such proportions. At the Setsmad Revival Weekend like the one held 24–26 September, they would see that humans can enjoy themselves without killing each other, hear the lively Irish music, feel the communal atmosphere, observe the training course ambience with all participants duly focused on the material to be learned, and having fun at the same time. Potential aliens would soon learn that this is worth preserving, and not only that, they might want to try a step or two themselves (unless they are equipped with five legs in which case Pádraig McEneany would have to come up with a damn good way of teaching them) which they would be welcome to do, wouldn’t they? Dancers have already opened their arms wide to all sorts of other alien creatures. Just take the Danes. It seems that in the modern day Dane the Viking still lurks, and still they are made welcome!

But aliens or no aliens, the sets danced in Basingstoke—31 different ones in total—were not all alien. Some of the well-known variety were thrown in too, for relaxation purposes, I suppose. And then it was back to some serious moves in marvellous sets like the Tournafulla or Glencree (the waltz figure is unique and super to dance). What made the Tournafulla particularly marvellous, same as the first figure in the Limerick Tumblers, is that for eight bars each couple in turn gets to choose their dance move, and oh boy, were there some moves, involving more body parts than feet!

Maybe at this point it would be good to say what all the sets were, wouldn’t it? Here is the comprehensive list:

Friday night ceili: Claddagh, Borlin Polka, Labasheeda, Tournafulla, Moycullen, Cashel, Roscahill, Ballyvourney Jig and Clare Lancers

Saturday workshop: Glencree, Melleray Lancers, Glencorrib and Lorrha Aiglish

Saturday night ceili: Kilfenora, Skibbereen, Clare Orange and Green, Derradda, West Kerry, Williamstown, Killyon, Connemara and Plain

Sunday workshop: Slip and Slide Polka, South Sligo Lancers

Sunday afternoon ceili: Valentia Right and Left, Monaghan, Fermanagh Quadrilles, Newport, Sliabh gCua, Carragh Lake Jig, Boyne

That’s 31, plus a couple of repeats, says Kevin. Now there are a lot of them not as alien anymore, which is exactly the purpose of this event.

And you have to hand it to them, to Setsmad, Kevin Monaghan and Carol Gannon. The name in itself rules supreme, the way it is written and printed on t-shirts entirely wicked—the t in Setsmad is at a slant, thus suggestive of the third last letter of the alphabet. Humour they have. Hospitality they have. Brave new ideas they have. For instance, behind the stage were hung five banners depicting the national flags of five countries that were represented there—Ireland, England, Denmark, France and Germany. (France, in the person of Maya from Lille, commented afterward, “It was a set dance binge. Have to unplug myself now.”) Across the hall, there were county banners flying from all the counties that sets were chosen from. And one county in particular will never be forgotten here—’tis Galway, Kevin Monaghan’s home county, and you are assured at least one set that hails from there.

Setsmad is out in a league of its own at this point in time. Nowhere else can you get pure and distilled sets end to end, taught by prolific Pádraig and Róisín McEneany, who don’t put a foot or thought wrong. (Somebody commented on how they had memories, whereas he had only “forgettery”.) And rightly, Pádraig makes a stand for workshops, encouraging people to go and experience the learning and laughing, the satisfaction of being shown a move and mastering it yourself. And really, all the participants were making a stand for set dancing workshops by being there, and by showing all the signs of people willing and eager to learn. Cameras were recording, flashes all ’round from photos taken, books were consulted, conferences between dancers at times reached animated levels, and a hush took hold when the teachers explained or demonstrated.

“A little etiquette cameo from the workshop on Sunday morning was a most welcome interlude,” says Kevin, “something we should as teachers, and I am usually neglectful, focus much more on, one of the things that marks out really good dancers.” His comment referred to a demonstration of how the arms were interlaced when swinging in four correctly, and the wrist-hold.

Kevin is very knowledgeable himself, I might add, good to be in a set with if in doubt. As well as a girl called Siobhán, who saved me from complete embarrassment in the Slip and Slide Polka Set, last figure, hornpipes. I couldn’t get the hang of how the gents were moving on and turning the ladies. Siobhán and her partner took some time and showed me. There must have been a glow about me as I finally saw the light!

Kevin and Carol did all they possibly could to attract and help people. In the build-up to the weekend you could find them online nonstop on social networking sites. Furthermore, for the weekend, they vacated their house and left it to a bunch of dancing visitors to live in, while they lodged themselves closer to the venue in a local hotel. Carol was only seen in the house on one occasion, baking Danish pastries for Sunday. Their two dogs, Max and Milo, were looked after beautifully by everyone present, most markedly by my other half, who tried to recover after turning a sickly whiter shade of pale on the ferry over. (He was consoled, thank goodness, by one of the biggest motorbike parts sellers that was on the way to Basingstoke, and he re-emerged from there with armfuls of prize goodies.) Max and Milo in the meantime got so much attention that Setsmad decided to award them their very own Facebook page (Maxnmilo). You think this is mad? Right you are.

The venue, Basingstoke’s Carnival Hall, deserves a mention, and this is also complying with a request. A lady told me, “You will mention the wonderful floor, won’t you?” Yes, it is a smashing floor to dance on, even for one girl who danced in crocs or barefoot. One guy actually danced barefoot all weekend. We were a bit worried for him after some glass had come down from the ceiling from a burst spotlight, but he danced right there, and no worry to him! We wondered whether perhaps walking on fire was also an ordinary activity for him, too.

The dancers on the whole were extraordinary, and most did wear shoes. You can only describe them as solid, switched on, determined. Well, there were a few moments, as I mentioned earlier.

Take Jim Flanagan, determinedly crossing the floor with a pot of tea. Luckily, he wasn’t dancing at the time. John Coleman ventured to say that Jim and the teapot reminded him of a “line in a play I saw years ago in Michelstown at the drama festival: ‘It’s shocking to see a man meanderin’ with a teapot.’”

Triskell Ceili Band with multitasking Fergal McEvoy at the box, perfectly sound-balanced by George Hook and Linda Reavey, had the daunting job of playing three ceilis in a row. Fingertips were getting sore on Sunday, such was the wear and tear. Since they are all one big family, their music resounded with the ease of a familial relationship. Personally, I love the flute in a ceili band. It provides a counterpoint to the box, banjo and fiddle, taking the edge off their sharpness and thickly carpeting the melody. Maybe that’s why there was some fledgling romance in the dancing air.

The more unknown sets were called by different people, who with or without notes guided the dancers through the moves. A special mention for Margaret Morrin’s crystal clarity and Maggie Daniel’s lively calling with a personal touch. Though poor Maggie did more knitting than dancing at the weekend due to an injury.

Brian Saunders, another happy punter, said, “We had a wonderful time. My favourite part was the ceili on Saturday night—the Skibbereen, West Kerry and Clare Orange and Green all in one night—bliss!”

And Robin Gracey said, “It’s been a long while since I ended a dance event with such a good feeling.” And that Kevin and Carol have “masterminded a triumph.”

Kevin commented, “My highlight was on Sunday afternoon, fourth figure of the Caragh Lake Set. The caller’s mic packed up and nine sets danced the figure beautifully to mesmeric jigs from Triskell, a joy to behold.”

Carol added, “It was a moment of pure magic and actually, without being girly about it, an emotional moment.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get that. I was too busy trying to get my partner to stop talking while dancing to increase our chances of getting some of the figure right!

And Kevin summed it up, “Inevitably, our dancers get taken out of their comfort zone! We had a grand time, with a twin track of reflecting on this one and forming thoughts for the next one.”

And one of Carol’s favourite phrases, said about someone, “This woman is all kinds of crazy.”

How about this one though, said by the same lady that loved the floor so much, “I love listening to Pádraig’s footwork, it’s so gentle and understated.”

Next year, I should like to see more teachers at it, more people who are interested in hearing about, dancing and studying sets. More people from abroad who hunger for an event that serves up a huge variety of sets revived. More Danes even. And some aliens.

Chris Eichbaum


Charity anniversary celebration

St Mary’s GAA Hall in Saggart, Co Dublin, was the venue for a special celebration and charity dance on Sunday 26th September. Ger and Maurice Boland from Kilteel, Naas, Co Kildare, celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary in style with a charity ceili. They are a very popular couple all over the country in the set dancing scene. Their popularity was epitomised by the hundreds who thronged from the four corners of Ireland to join in their celebration and to subscribe to their charity, Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, Dublin. It was wonderful to meet their family who had joined them to celebrate and dance with us.

The superb music of the Annaly Ceili Band kept dancers tapping it out all afternoon. We danced a marvellous selection of sets including the Claddagh, Antrim Square, Moycullen and Boyne. Our MC for the afternoon was Syl Bell with guest callers Tony Slevin and Pat Murphy.

At the tea break we enjoyed a mouth-watering selection of both savoury and sweet delights.

Maurice addressed us and told us of the humble beginnings of their married life when he was still a student and Ger supported him in every way possible. It was clear to see that this couple are as much in love today as they were on the day they married forty years ago. A massive anniversary cake was cut, a chocolate lovers dream—I scoffed a big slice. The draw for spot prizes took a bit of time as there were about thirty in total, all donated by dancers and friends.

The sum raised on the day amounted to €4,318. This amount was proudly presented to Mo Flynn, CEO of Our Lady’s Hospice. She thanked Ger, Maurice and everyone who contributed to the event, and also congratulated Ger and Maurice on their wedding anniversary. Donations from dancers and non-dancers alike in the following days, weeks and months added a further €657 to the total, bringing the final figure raised by this warm caring couple to €4,975.

Joan Pollard Carew


Sets on Inishbofin Island

During a weekend on Inishbofin from October 14th to 16th, islanders and visitors alike enjoyed a fantastic display of music, song and dance, both sets and sean nós.

Kevin Abeyta, a well known fiddler from the island, and Bernie McNulty from Belleek in Co Fermanagh arranged this first set dancing and trad festival which will hopefully now become an annual event. For many participants it was their first trip to this little island, seven miles off the Galway coast—but they say definitely not their last.

Workshops were taught by Teresa McKeaney from Fermanagh and Ronan Regan from Galway. Music for the ceili Saturday night was provided by the Lough Erne Ceili Band, a Belleek-based band that Kevin plays in. Ronan’s DVD, Dance Sean-Nós for Beginners, was launched by singer Rosie Stewart and Ronan gave many displays of his expert footwork. Locals danced the Inishbofin Half-Set—for some of them the first time in thirty years! This set can now be passed on to the younger generations. The sessions both Friday and Saturday night played well into the early hours and no doubt would have done so on Sunday as well, but the boat leaving at 5pm put a stop to all of that.

The organisers want to thank all who contributed in any way to the huge success of the weekend. It was wonderful to end the summer season on a high note both with weather and music alike

Bernie McNulty, Belleek, Co Fermanagh


Dungannon class celebrates 18 years

As part of a cultural venture in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and the surrounding areas, a set dancing class commenced in 1992 with Seamus Robinson as dance tutor. In its early years, the late Connie Ryan took a workshop every year until his untimely death in 1997. He was greatly appreciated and always very welcome. Martin Bolger took the workshop for a few years afterwards. On one occasion the workshop had to be moved to an alternative location, as the dancing venue was blown up in a bomb attack just days before it was due to begin.

As well as the set dancing class, the committee also held an annual big ceili in St Patrick’s Hall, which was well attended each year with marvellous bands from various parts of Ireland. Unfortunately the hall did not comply with the current regulations, and the parish decided to put it up for sale. The class ran two more years in Edendork Hall, which has now been earmarked for demolition to facilitate the building of a new primary school. In the meantime a new venue, Ballysaggart Business Complex, was found to facilitate the weekly class which is shown in the picture. Unfortunately, there is no suitable venue locally to run a big ceili. There are plans in the not too distant future to build a community centre in the parish so hopefully accommodation will be available for big ceilis.

Despite some ups and downs experienced over the past eighteen years the class continues to flourish. Our teacher Seamus, with his unyielding commitment and enthusiasm, has contributed as much to the success of this class as has his dance teaching ability. Hopefully the class will continue successfully for many more years to come so as to keep the tradition of set dancing well and truly alive in Dungannon and the surrounding areas.

Sadly three very loyal class members died over the past few years, namely Mary Carson, Gerard McConville and John O’Neill. May they rest in peace.

Róisín O’Connor, Dungannon, Co Tyrone


Canberra blast raises roof

Set dancers from around Australia gathered in Canberra for the annual Canberra Irish Set Dancing Weekend, 8–10 October. The event opened with a blast—this year we had the Corner House Ceili Band to play for us on both Friday and Saturday nights, and they really raised the roof! An impressive eight sets turned up for the first night and almost half of the people were from other states in Australia.

The next morning started with Martin Largey and Nora Stewart teaching basic steps, the up and down jig and the reel—always useful for warming up and getting new dancers up to speed. Margaret Winnett then taught the Fermanagh Quadrilles and then Marie Brouder taught the Boyne Set, apparently all the rage in Ireland this year. After lunch and some couples dances taught by Ina and Graeme Bertrand, we finished up by learning the Sliabh Fraoch Set from Bill Winnett.

On Saturday evening the great music and dance continued as the Corner House Ceili Band, warmed up from the previous night, gave us some mighty tunes to dance to. The highlight of the night was the Clare Lancers, which was danced uncalled. In Australia most set dances are still called, but with the set dance weekend we’re trying to reduce the dancers’ reliance on calling. This went brilliantly, with the ever-popular dance being a great success. The dancing went so quickly that we even had to throw in a couple of figures from the Caledonian before the end of the night.

On the Sunday Nora and Martin continued teaching steps for beginners, then we learnt the Fintown Set from Marie. It’s another lovely little set in both style and substance—at only two figures we could revise it and still end up with time left over in the afternoon teaching session. The farewell ceili on Sunday afternoon saw the same numbers as the previous day, although several people left during the dancing to catch flights home. We finished up at King O’Malley’s Irish Pub for dinner on the Sunday—truly a fitting end to a great weekend.

Paul Wayper, Canberra, Australia


Lusty sets on Lusty Beg Island

Lusty Beg is an island off Boa Island, which is near Kesh, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. It’s the lake district up there, water, yachts, moorings, herons everywhere. And Lusty Beg—a tiny island by a little island on a big island. Alice behind mirrors comes to mind as the small ferry sets off to transfer cars on the hundred metre voyage that takes all of five minutes, marking the threshold, leaving one world to enter another. Ring the bell as you arrive and the ferryman will come and get you! It is almost dark as the boat slowly traverses the little stretch of water smoothly, and lights on the shores of Lusty Beg grow from dim to bright on the approach. The island’s hotel is a complex of different types of accommodation, masterfully laid out without disturbing nature, landscape, swans and views. Cottages, chalets and lodges, some of timber, are hidden almost from view behind rowan and birch trees.

This is the penultimate in getting away from it all. Lusty Beg is busy; wedding receptions prosper here. Teresa McKeaney and Sean Flanagan, main organisers, have done well to move the former Belcoo weekend to Lusty Beg Island. The change in time of year (it used to be in February) means that travellers don’t have to worry about snow and ice. Travellers also need not worry about currency—although in the north, it’s close to the border, and the hotel takes euro as well as pounds. Staff are friendly and prompt. Rooms are spacious and had all the conveniences one needs—ironing, in my case.

That night, the Friday, my feet made contact with one of the finest dance floors I have ever danced on, apart, I was told, from the Ballroom of Romance in Glenfarne, Co Leitrim. I’d know a good floor, because I have an in-built hardness barometer, the only positive side to a bad back, and it didn’t indicate anything, nothing at all, so the floor whispers to come and dance on it all the time!

Ger Butler, who was invited to teach the workshop on Saturday, says how as a youngster he was watching the dancing in Glenfarne, and from the stamping of the feet on a sprung floor was bobbed about on his seat, as he freely demonstrated now again! It was there that the young Ger watched and admired a man dancing, and the man was Eamon McKeaney. Eamon and Teresa danced with and followed Connie Ryan, and Connie suggested that Eamon start teaching. This weekend is now held in his memory. Seeing the enthusiastic and technically-versed dancers clattering with dedication and loyalty, I am sorry not to have met him.

Incidentally, Lusty Beg Island was the last place Eamon ever danced in. Teresa and Peggy McGovern, his wife and sister, remember this, and as they talk about it, a deeper chord is hit, a timbre of reminiscence sets in, dignity perhaps, honouring the story and Eamon’s place in it. Talking about grief has a place at a set dancing workshop weekend, particularly if it’s held in remembrance of one who died. The talking circle agrees grief knows no rules, and luckily, as a society, the Irish are much more accepting now of mourners grieving in whichever way seems appropriate to them. And so the singing of songs, some doleful, definitely have their place as well, touching on and moving into other realms of human emotion.

Teresa says she would always have been in the background at their set dancing classes, operating the music and helping out, but after Eamon died she was asked to continue the class. At first she didn’t feel very confident, despite the fact that all the students, and more, came back. “I’m sure they came back to support me,” she says. Now, three years on, she has transformed into an assertive, classy woman, whose power easily holds the attention of a hall full of people without having to ask for it.

Sean Flanagan, the other half of the main organising team, is a retired prison officer with a wicked sense of humour, and his way of clowning around on the dance floor makes me laugh!

The music created by Nigel and John Davey with Tom Skelly from the Johnny Reidy Ceili Band on Friday night was fast-paced and strong-willed, urging dancers to tap it out (no encouragement needed on that great floor)—one of the best nights for the Daveys! On top of that, the musicians are super friendly and approachable—thumbs up for a sound performance (and good sound) through and through.

The session after, and indeed also after Saturday night’s ceili, had lots of singing. Memorably, Anna McManus sang a really long-versed song with her distinct smoky, husky and at times breaking voice that’s unforgettable. I’ve heard many singers that have ‘nice’ voices, but singers that set themselves apart are the ones that don’t perform a song. They sing, relate to the audience and make contact with the lyrics in an authentic way. Anna is one of them. She is also a wild dancer, with lots of energy, which is no wonder really, because she is one of Eamon’s seven sisters, and they all seem to have the same unquenchable energy. Peggy is another one, also wild, also strong. (Are they, however distantly, descendants from Grainne Uaile? It’s easy to imagine them talking pirate on board tall ships, bound for booty!)

This time, the workshop all day Saturday felt a bit different, because Ger was teaching in a different way again. No two workshops with him are the same. It was, of course, a pleasure to be spending more time on that gorgeous floor. After doing the Ath a’ Caoire Set from Cork and the Derry Colmcille Set, a bit of sean nós was wanted, which yielded a new ending to a step for me, hurray! Someone said that the beauty of sean nós is that you dance it on your own, and don’t have to be worried about stepping on someone’s toes. Funny though, the sean nós rise to fame recently attracts apparently a large array of people of all ages and abilities, and yes, you are on your own, and are allowed to dance and try the steps in your own manner and deportment. No two sean nós dancers are the same either.

The real story here is when Ger Butler was waiting for the ferry on the far side. As the ferryman motioned for him to bring the car onto the boat, the engine didn’t start. All his sound gear had to be carried onto the ferry, and the man and his equipment collected on the far side by a chauffeur. Later, staff managed to restart the car, bring it over to the island and left the engine running to recharge the battery. How’s that for service?

Sitting out in the sun on the terrace, looking out onto the shady blue waters that gentle winds blow here and there into minute ripples, walking along the shores where broad leaves are nodding with gnarled branches this way and that, beams of lights playfully skipping over the water’s surface—you can unwind, rewind and recharge. It is so tempting to take the afternoon off and go exploring. But no, I have to bag that sean nós step, dancing on this fab floor!

Coming towards the end of the day’s workshop, when everyone looks as if they had just crawled the last leg to reach the top of Kilimanjaro, nearly 6,000m high, a jive lesson was about the only thing left to try. I didn’t know that jiving had any inherent revitalising functions, but somehow it does, and The Galway Girl did her bit too, my favourite song to jive to.

This meant that the fast-paced action thriller ceili at night with Swallow’s Tail was a doddle to dance. It was the floor though—class floor. And you can’t dance in this part of the country without encountering the Foxes, brothers Frank and Pat Fox. Girls, if you end up in a set with them, you’re in for a wild ride! You might even become airborne on occasion.

For Sunday morning, meeting Marie Garrity and having her show us two-hand dances was just right, and dancing them with Anna McManus was more than right! For lunch it was a caesar salad—no two caesar salads are the same either. Every chef makes them different. Here they’re worthy of a Michelin rating. Along with the food, I had an interesting conversation with someone I had literally lived around the corner from, but didn’t know then. Both of us sigh in a ‘the world is a small place’ kind of way.

When the Lough Ree Ceili band started playing for the Sunday afternoon ceili, with Paul Gurney instead of Liz Ryan, I was not so sure about it, since I am very fond of Liz’s way of coaxing accompaniments out of the keyboard. But, actually, he is very good. During the break, he played a classically remixed hornpipe, which was his own arrangement. With the bit of classical training I have, the only response could be to take a bow!

Women were still flying around the floor when I snuck out to head home the long way via Dublin, on the autobahn. Flying? Women flying? This was naturally Pat Fox, lifting them off the ground. Later, he said about one lady, “She just wouldn’t keep her feet on the floor for me!”

Well done lads, way to go. The change of venue was spot on.

Did I mention the brilliant floor?

Chris Eichbaum

PS—The nicest thing was said to me by Fionnola, who served as Teresa’s PA. Here she was, a slim woman, tightening her belt. Says I, “Oh no, don’t tell me you have lost weight? You’re already the perfect size!” And she answers, “But you have that hourglass figure that all the men love so much!” No further comment . . .


Listowel 2010

Back from Portugal one night, and down to Listowel the next—how crazy is that? But a good few people made it to Mary Philpott’s, brother Michael O’Rourke’s and their father Jerry O’Rourke’s weekend in Kerry, 15–17 October, just after landing back on Irish shores. I was one of them and fully expected to drop dead inside the next 48 hours, but as you can see, I survived to tell a tale. ’Twas actually like a resurrection chamber, though I attempted to curtail dancing as best I could, but the excitement medicine, the craic pill, and the musical stretcher carried me through it and beyond! But what happened first led nicely into the weekend.

You wouldn’t expect to learn a few things about set dancing past at the madcap dancing frenzy that’s Listowel, now would you? But if you have the pleasure of sitting with historian Timmy Woulfe on the Friday night, you can hear some interesting facts.

He said, “Every set is a work of art. They weren’t put together haphazardly.” We talk about the Tournafulla Set, which thirty years ago he authored after gathering information on it from an eighty-year-old in the area. He mentions that the eight bars of free dancing the second figure were actually meant to be danced in waltz hold, and inside the confines of the set! However, in reality some folks push those confines ruthlessly, the cheeky monkeys! Timmy also elaborates on eight-hand reels that used to be danced as a prelude to sets in North Kerry and West Limerick parishes. “These are all defunct now,” he says.

The next morning, Timmy attended Ger Butler’s workshop in the morning and was graced with a set he didn’t know. Actually, just a select few knew this one! A local set from Roscommon (“the right side of Carrick-on-Shannon,” ahem, cough, cough) that his dad suggested he teach. There are no notes yet, so Helen Kilgallen (a Sligo maiden) decided to jot them down. Me too, but I wasn’t quick enough so had to glean them from her. The set’s called Seana Gael Set, meaning ‘old Irish’. Danced to slowish polkas, the first figure has you doing a long body—in-two-three, in-two-three and two turns on to the next position; repeat till you come home. The rest has familiar moves in unfamiliar patterns. Best of all is the fourth figure, jigs, in which you will confuse the fourth figure of the Moycullen and the East Galway ducks! What should happen here is that after a circle, chain all round for 12 bars and swing for 12 bars, top ladies cross, then side ladies, followed by top gents and side gents, all cross back and proceed to single-file lead around with corner couple and basket after. All is repeated then with side ladies leading. And the ducks go to the other corner. Getting a taste of it? Good!

Now is a good time to get another name in—Edwina Guckian. Edwina is involved with the Listowel weekend, and helped at the door, etc. But what’s really up with her is her work with kids, which is reminiscent of the work that John Fennel is doing with children in Clare. She teaches sean nós to children, and has a group that is progressing through RTÉ’s All-Ireland Talent show. Her group’s name is Sean Nós ar an tSianann, and they have also appeared on TG4’s An Jig Gig. Michael O’Rourke is a part of that group, and the kids range from 7 to 13 years in age. They auditioned in Galway, and were one of forty acts chosen out of 2,000. Then on to Dublin, where they auditioned in front of Daithi O’Sé , the weatherman, and got through again—27 acts out of forty that time. Then they found themselves in the top sixteen, and after another performance it was a place in the top eight, which meant they were through to the live show. On New Year’s Eve, switch on that TV or record the All-Ireland Talent Show, and Edwina’s group will be straddling the screen!

Why is she so keen on it? It obviously means a lot of time input, rehearsals, and commitment. “I want to push the kids out. I want to show the rest of Ireland how good they are!” is her hearty comment. At her sean nós workshop on Sunday in Listowel, I can feel it again, that commitment, her steady go-go-go, her will to pass on what she has learned. A teacher driven, focused and reliably solid—she will go a long way. She led the class in a no-nonsense way, and had a multinational group going. Italian, English, Irish, Danish and Germans were at it, and a couple of kids amongst the adults, too. Her new step was the fancy one—on your toes jump out, in, and then wriggle, wriggle, wriggle! When you’re on your toes, it does make your seat stand out more, so the wriggle becomes even more prominent. I adored that one because it’s comical, and me like comical!

The second new step is also comical to me—cock a leg up four times, and while doing that, swing it round behind you in a circle. My catalogue of steps is getting more and more clownish, but it could well be the way I am doing them! Looking around, others don’t strike me as the circusy types, some look chic and graceful dancing sean nós, others cool and hip, more developing their own style, and I wonder, what’s mine? Hmmm, I think I might wear a big round red nose at some point!

As a sideline, Helen Gilgallen also tried to teach the old step dance St. Patrick’s Day to a few insatiable dancers. Ane Luise Madsen had a very unfair advantage, since she has done those dances before with Patrick O’Dea, but I still found it hard to watch her just go, whereas I had to stop Helen time and again and ask her to please repeat the first step! It was the first time I tried old step, and it felt odd, as if biting into an exotic fruit which yields a combination of known and unknown flavours making it hard to decide whether you like it or not.

The ceilis that weekend produced lots of people with feet off the ground—either because they had been lifted up, had jumped up, or simply chose hovering as their preferred mode of mobility. Looking through the photographs, I couldn’t believe how many were caught in mid-air! Amazing what music can do. Maybe the sound waves could be harnessed and their powers exploited as a type of fuel for planes, trains and automobiles.

Automobiles? On Sunday the Bugatti of ceili bands turned on the punters with gear-changes, um, key-changes to match the movement on the floor—it was the Johnny Reidy Ceili Band! But, hold the horses for a moment and rewind to Friday night, when the Five Counties gave a super performance; over to Saturday afternoon when the Davey Ceili Band equally matched Friday night’s music with liveliness; and on to Swallow’s Tail that night. The Swallows dug deep and flew high after the break, hallelujah, and ascended into a different sector of the trad music quadrant altogether. Pure gold.

Sunday afternoon brought the gift of Johnny Reidy—you won’t see anyone snoring as the dancers glide effortlessly around the corners. The band’s speed is akin to cheetah on chase rather than kitten after ball. A particular set of the band’s admirers has it in for the last figure of the Plain Set—the lads will jump up before starring while the ladies are on the move, and so there were more bodies on the fly.

And the two tall girls let fly, too. You could make them out easily of course, because they are really tall, not just a bit taller. One was the Great Dane, Ane Luise Madsen, who once again couldn’t stay at home while there’s a good weekend on, and the other was Diana Salb, co-organiser of the midsummer weekend in Germany, where Johnny will be playing next May. To her lasting surprise, the Great Dane was also uplifted! In the Borlin, last figure, a man had her kicking both her heels in the air! Their smiles and centrifuged hair were like beacons above the sea of dancers. And an Italian girl and a German girl, not that tall, had long, longer, longest hair. Plaited into yard long tails, when they spun you had to get out of the way or else be thrashed by them!

Two men then were seen in waltz hold at some point (I never found out what was going on there) and another two jiving—is there a theme developing here? Why, actually, aren’t men dancing together, apart from the obvious fact that mostly you’ll find plenty more ladies at ceilis than men, so to make up sets, there is no need. I’d love to see some doing it both ways! So far, only the buck sets have obliged, and an occasional teacher unafraid of showing the ladies’ way. I remember someone in Denmark saying that if there is a surplus of men at their set dance class, the men would team up and dance together. Imagine this—a gent moving on to you, you’re looking nonplussed by it but held by conformity, you dance on stoically, take him into your arms in waltz hold, and he coolly states, “I’m a lady!” Hrrrmmmphhh! Could we get used to it? What would you call them? Gentladies? And if you’re a lady dancing the gent, and you take on a gentlady to dance with, would that make you a gentladygent? Would you try to lift him or her in the last part of the Borlin? There is at least one lady who’d have a go, apart from myself. She tries lifting gents occasionally anyway, priding herself in the muscle power she possesses, or likes to think she does. You all know her, once seen, never forgotten, a set dancing etiquette atheist per se. One of those heart-warming potty ones the scene couldn’t do without.

Yes, Listowel allows for lots of fun tomfoolery, a playground for set dancers, complete with slides and seesaws, arches and chains, big wheels and stars, and some threading needles, too. And although at the very end I was only able to crawl, no regrets!

Chris Eichbaum

A grand time at Halsway Manor

Set dancers will dance anywhere at any time, whether in halls, hotels, pubs, barns, kitchens or crossroads. But despite Grand Hotels in Malahide and Killarney, there aren’t many places in Ireland where you can dance sets in the grandeur of a bygone era—you’ll have to go further afield for that. In Germany I’ve danced several times in a medieval castle, and just last October I spent a weekend dancing Irish sets in an English manor house.

Halsway Manor (pronounced as if it were spelt Halsy) sits on a south-facing hillside in Somerset fifty miles southwest of Bristol and six miles from the shores of the Bristol Channel. As I arrived on Friday, October 22nd, the manor’s facade of mellow, weathered stone was gleaming like gold in the setting sun and its well-ordered assortment of gables, gargoyles, pinnacles, crenellations, chimneys and leaded-glass windows suggested great antiquity. Indeed, the oldest half of the house was rebuilt in the fifteenth century, and the manor was recorded at the time of William the Conqueror in the Domesday Book. The lawns in front of the house were as soft and clean as a freshly hoovered carpet and neatly bordered by stone walls and railings. A tiny lane ran in front of the house and all around were trees, giving an air of serenity and making a very appealing location for a set dancing weekend.

People have been dancing regularly in Halsway since 1965 when a society was formed to purchase the manor and manage it as a residential centre for folk music, dance, art and crafts. With its fiftieth anniversary in sight, Halsway hosts music and dance events all year round, plus weddings and conferences. Full-board accommodation for over sixty is available in the manor and in an adjacent building. While nearly all the weekends here are devoted to English folk music and dance, Irish set dancing joined the schedule in 2006 and every year since, thanks to organisers Ken Lamport and Sarah Loweth.

On arrival I entered a hall with a soaring barrel-vaulted timber ceiling, a grand staircase and blazing log fire in an elaborate fireplace. The staff welcomed me at the reception desk with the keys to my room and a pot of tea and biscuits, which I took in the adjoining lounge panelled in dark oak and bathed in sunlight through its mullioned windows. I couldn’t resist going through a secret door hidden in the panelling, which led to a fascinating library of folk music and dance books and recordings.

The ballroom is in the Victorian half of the manor, decorated in light colours and chandeliers, with plenty of bright windows facing the garden. One set was already hard at work dancing the Lancers and Mazurka sets to recorded music. As each figure finished, dancers swapped places with those watching from the seats. I was amused that the third figure of the Mazurka, the highgates, was skipped, “too complicated,” but then the last figure had to be dropped as well when the staff wanted to set up the room for dinner. Meals were part of the weekend package, made in the kitchen using local produce and served at our seats by waiters and waitresses.

Dancing began in earnest soon after the meal ended and the ballroom was cleared of tables. The resident band for the weekend was Pendragon, featuring John Dudley on accordion, Cath Mowat on fiddle (her debut with them) and Nigel Hall on banjo. In the past three years they’ve started playing for Irish set dancing in addition to their regular English and Scottish gigs. They’ve adapted well, as the music was well-paced, lively and full of great tunes, some of which were composed by John, the bandleader. Our full-time caller and teacher was Maggie Daniel, who never repeated a set all weekend, except some of those we learned in her workshop. Tonight we danced three recently revived favourites, the Kilfenora, Antrim Square and Claddagh, and three oldies, the Sliabh gCua, Labasheeda and Sliabh Luachra. In between there was a tea break, or rather a hot water break with teabags and cocoa mix supplied. When the ceili finished, nearly everyone relocated to the cosy lounge for a late session of music and song before heading upstairs for a quiet rest.

At breakfast on Saturday morning we dished out whatever we wanted at the buffet, and hung around tables of electric toasters chatting to friends waiting for the toast to burn. After we vacated the dining room, the staff turned it back into a ballroom, and we were ready to dance at Maggie’s workshop soon after 10am. Her first set was the Slip and Slide Polka, which seems to have become all the rage in England after Pádraig and Róisín McEneany taught it in Basingstoke in September see page 16. All the dancers in England seem to share a commendable passion for obscure sets and for dancing as many different ones as humanly possible. Despite coming from Co Monaghan, the Slip and Slide has something of a Sliabh Luachra feeling about it—perhaps that’s why I always had a fondness for it.

Maggie’s next one was the equally enjoyable Glencree Set, which I love for all the hand and arm movements that go along with the foot and leg work. The workshoppers helped the staff set up tables for lunch, and following the meal we continued with the Lough Neagh and the Black Valley sets. Tea and biscuits in the middle of the afternoon revived us for Lucy Taylor’s steps for sets workshop. She covered the basics of reels, jigs and polkas and practiced a few of the specific steps, like that finishing step danced in bars 7 and 8 throughout the Connemara Set. Ken Lamport helped out as well with some tips on the placement of hands and feet. To finish up the afternoon, we danced a high energy Plain Set to music specially concocted by Ken from recordings by Solas, Four Men and a Dog, North Cregg and Lunasa.

The Saturday night ceili was designated as “posh frocks night” and most of the ladies donned elegant dresses and sparkling jewels. Men made no special effort about their garb and yet had the benefit of their well-dressed partners. Maggie had a new line-up of sets, including three from the workshop plus the Corofin, West Kerry, Ballyvourney and Connemara. Pendragon played more of their tuneful music, and while they were working out the tunes and bar counts before each figure, Maggie had a moment to explain the movements and even entertain us with a few jokes, light bulbs being a particular speciality of hers. (How many sound engineers does it take to change a light bulb? One, two, testing, one, two, one, two. How many folk musicians does it take to change a light bulb? Five, one to change the bulb and four to argue why the old one was better.) The night ended with another session in the lounge, this time with a temporary dance floor on the carpet for cloggers and sean nós dancers.

Saturday had been a damp day, perfect for dancing, but Sunday turned out to be beautifully bright and sunny, perfect for hill walking, and for those so inclined, a guided walk was part of the morning programme. As much as I’d love to see the views over five counties in England and Wales, when I heard Maggie was teaching Hurry the Jug in the workshop, I couldn’t possibly be anywhere else. The hills are there forever, but chances are few and far between to dance the Jug, a deliciously complicated figure dance. Having tackled that to applause and cheers, there was time for the Ardgroom Set, famed for its three types of bodies, including the simple but confounding walking polka.

Sunday lunch was a full three-course meal—no going hungry here! The final ceili was delightfully relaxed and pleasurable—there’s always something special about dancing on a Sunday afternoon, especially as we had a new selection of sets before us, the Ardgroom, Lancers, Borlin, Cashel and Plain. Maggie had exhausted her supply of fresh jokes, but by popular demand retold the collection from last night’s ceili to even more laughter. The band also outdid themselves and made it plain why they are firm favourites here. At the end of the ceili there was plenty of warm applause for the staff, organisers, teachers and musicians, and for the rest of us as well.

Before the final farewell, we had one last chance to cool down and chat over an English cream tea, served with scones, clotted cream and jam. In the intimate, comfortable setting of Halsway Manor, the weekend was like a private house party among friends. Dancing and sharing meals are two of the best ways to meet people, and there’s no better place to do it than Halsway.

Bill Lynch


Unstoppable in Carryduff

It was with great anticipation that eight of our Glasgow set dance class, including teacher Frank O’Neill, met at Glasgow Airport on Friday 29 October for our morning flight to Belfast. Audrey and I usually travel alone and my first venture into tour operating was giving me slight concerns that there would be problems.

After a quick hop over the water, George Best Belfast City Airport greeted us and a short taxi trip later we were in our hotel for the weekend. We soon started to see old faces also checking in, and stories were soon being swapped. Some of the heaviest rain I have seen stopped us going out for a walk in the afternoon and localised flooding brought fears of a reduced attendance, which were not realised. Set dancers are unstoppable.

We thought 9.30pm was never going to arrive but after dinner, and changing into my kilt, we headed to the St Joseph’s Church Hall for our first ceili, with the mighty Copperplate.

With Pat Murphy calling, a big, international crowd started with a Corofin Plain followed by Claddagh, Sliabh Luachra and a Moycullen before tea. After a break and a raffle draw we restarted with a Clare Lancers, Connemara and finished with a Plain divided into three two-figure blocks. We got back to the hotel hot and excited and cooled down in the foyer before heading off to bed.

Saturday morning brought a lovely sunny day and workshops with Pat Murphy. We arrived a half hour early to sample Isabel Wood’s scones and homemade jams. Although she is eighty years young, she is up half the night every Saturday morning of a weekend baking for the workshop dancers. The scones are as light as her feet and she dances every set at céilithe. We worked through the Meelin Victoria, Fermanagh Quadrilles, Ath a’ Caoire and a wee waltz, Margaret’s Waltz, which Audrey and I already knew.

A lovely curry dinner set us up for the evening ceili. 9.30pm drew around again and, with Brian Boru playing great tunes and Joe Farrell calling, we danced a Kilfenora, Moycullen, Clare Lancers and a Derradda before a cool down waltz took us to the break. A Cashel, Fermanagh Quadrilles and Caledonian took us to the final dance, an Antrim Square. Knowing that the clocks were going back we had a wee seisiún in the hotel foyer before bed.

Sunday brought a workshop of two-hand dances from Pat Murphy, a nice mix of foxtrots, tangos and waltzes. Then it was 2pm and time for Cathal McAnulty to entertain us, again called by Joe Farrell. We had never danced to Cathal before and his sound and beat were first class for dancing. We began with a Corofin Plain to warm us up followed by a Borlin, after which we were really warm, then a Connemara and a Ballyvourney Jig to take us to the break. A very brisk first half! In the second half we enjoyed a Clare Lancers, Boyne and another Antrim Square before we finished with a straight through Plain.

That took us to 5pm and the arrival of our taxis to take us back to George Best for our flight home. It was with big smiles but heavy hearts that we left Belfast nearly two hours late after a flight delay, but the chat on the plane was all dancing and I have been instructed to start planning the next trip.

Ian McLaren, Paisley, Scotland


The whole hog in Waterford

The West Waterford Hooley weekend in Clonea Strand Hotel, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, 28–30 October, lived up to its name. The dynamic duo Helen and Paddy Kealy once again came up trumps. Mary Mulready asked them to run a charity ceili in aid of cystic fibrosis. Helen and Paddy don’t do things by half, so they decided to go the whole hog and do a full weekend. Their energy knows no bounds.

Tim Joe O’Riordan and Mort Kelleher kick-started the Friday night ceili with their usual lively music and great banter from Tim Joe. They are favourites with the Dungarvan set dancers, who are now used to Tim Joe’s trick when doing the hop figure in the Cashel Set—“Sides . . . get ready.” He loves to call just a fraction before they are supposed to take off, just to see how many people take off too early.

Mairéad Casey paid her first visit to the sunny south east for the workshops. She proved very popular with the dancers; her reputation preceded her and she did not disappoint. Mairéad started the morning workshop with the Borlin Jenny Set. This proved a popular choice and was enjoyed by all. We finished off the morning session with the Fermanagh Set. An eager bunch were looking forward to Mairéad’s Sunday morning sean nós workshop. Many of them had not been to one before and were eager to learn a few steps from this very talented and popular expert.

A jive workshop was planned for 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon. At 2.45pm we had a phone call from the tutor to say he got delayed and would be about thirty minutes late, so Helen and Paddy decided to teach a few nice two-hand dances to pass the time and warm up the eager would be jivers. It soon became clear that our booked teacher was going to be more than thirty minutes late and despite numerous phone calls to the delayed teacher he could not be reached. That was the last we heard from him. A couple of seasoned jivers offered to save the day and teach a few moves and all present took it in their stride with good humour. A refund was offered to all present with no hard feelings.

We were treated to a most magical night of music with the wonderful Donie Nolan and Taylor’s Cross Ceili Band. There was such a brilliant atmosphere in the hall and all dancers appreciated the privilege of dancing to these talented musicians. It was a special treat for us to have one of our own local flute players, Eibhlín De Paor, from An Rinn playing with the band. There was a special treat in store for the visitors from Dublin when Donie announced he was playing a selection of Dublin reels in their honour. He also had a treat in store for the locals when he sang Sweet Dungarvan Town—you could hear a pin drop.

With the clock going back an hour it felt much too early to go home after the ceili, so a few night owls decided to retire to the bar to while away an hour with a quiet drink, but set dancers being set dancers, it was not very long before the hooley began. Is there any dancer who does not know and love the lovely natural comedienne, Doreen Corrigan? It was not long before her Dublin wit bounced off a few of the Dungarvan wits. It was hilarious. We could make money if we had a video of the following few hours of craic. Doreen and Pat Moloney from Dungarvan made a natural comedy duo. The singsong and dancing went on till the wee hours. I hope they did not break the mould when they made Doreen—the alchemists using it poured in lead and got gold.

Mairéad did not disappoint the budding sean nós-ers who turned up for her workshop on Sunday morning. The enthusiasm was in evidence at the afternoon ceili when there was a break in between sets and eager students were seen practising their newly learned skills

The weekend was brought to a close with the ever popular Glenside Ceili Band playing for the closing ceili. The word that is used by everyone to describe these two lovely brothers is the same at every ceili they play at. They are ‘nature’s gentlemen’. Also their lovely keyboard player, Ann Adlum, always has a friendly smile for everyone she makes eye contact with. The ceili finished at 5.30pm and it took the usual half hour or so to say all our goodbyes and for the band to pack away the mountain of gear they need. A couple of eager sean nós dancers were still practising and Paddy jokingly said to Tom Flood, “Give us a tune on the box for the dancers,” and guess what, no sooner said than done. Tom took up the box and played a few tunes. A gentleman and a good sport, true and true.

Take a bow Paddy and Helen you have done it yet again. Your enthusiasm is infectious. Hope we have another hooley again soon. Between the raffle and takings from the weekend nearly €6,000 so far has been raised for the cystic fibrosis fund.

Celia Gaffney, Dungarvan, Co Waterford


Manchester 2010

Timmy Woulfe, set dancer and teacher from Athea, Co Limerick, and our regular correspondent Chris Eichbaum pooled their thoughts on Sean Dempsey and the annual set dancing weekend in Manchester, England, dedicated to his memory.

Chris:

The 23rd Sean Dempsey weekend, 22-24 October, was also the tenth anniversary of Sean’s death. Who was Sean Dempsey? I never met him, but wasn’t sure about it, and someone immediately said, “No, you haven’t met him. If you had, you wouldn’t have forgotten.” Comments about him were like a backdrop hum coming from all corners, and he was remembered everywhere—banners, t-shirts, bowls, trophies, balloons, you name it and his name and dancing silhouette were on it. I found myself getting interested in who this man was. Page after page, people’s voices were written down, and below is a fractional collection of things they said about him—

Speaking of Sean Dempsey

My grandad, all I remember clearly is when he used to come and pick me and Kieran up for school every morning. We loved his van and loved him taking us to school. When I had my dumb moments he would call me a “duck egg”! I remember him telling me a saying that has always stuck in my head, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Now at dancing events and talking to people who knew the dancing side of my grandad amazes me and gives me more determination to keep the Sean Dempsey Set Dance Club alive to celebrate what he started.

Kelly Anne Maguire, Sean’s granddaughter

“Sorry, my fault,” was one of his favourite sayings when calling something wrong. Often, after all the calling, the weekends, he would be hoarse! He did it all himself, was always on the phone, collecting people from as far away as Holyhead! Mum was the strict one, my dad was really soft with us. There was two sides to my dad. He was a union rep and fought for workers’ rights as well as doing the dancing. He’d argue, but would really be friendly too. He would say it the way it was, but laugh it off. So he had tact and diplomacy. He brought people together. He’d argue if he thought he was right, but still unite people. He was a total devotee to anything he was involved in. He’d leave a family do for ceilis! He’d run his class like a ceili. Lots more were at classes that time, eighty or ninety people sometimes. He loved chocolate, he was happy and not interested in money. If he had fags and petrol for the van to go to ceilis, that was all he wanted. He’d get so excited about going somewhere. He’d get the tapes ready, the van. He hated ties, and preferred casual clothes.

Claire Maguire, Sean’s daughter

I am not a good dancer. My head tells my feet, but they can’t do it. Sean loved the dancing. He was never at home, always on the go. He was always out for the craic, but in an honest and genuine way. He never did anything in self interest. Always only for the good of the group.

Anne Dempsey, his wife

He had a massive personality. He brought great liveliness and joy to everything. He had a great love for people. He’d insult you in a way that you could only laugh about it. We used to come up for the competitions, it was massive then, but all for the craic. There was buck dances and everything. When he got sick, Matt Cunningham used to send him Mass cards from wherever he was playing, and always played Boulavogue, Sean’s favourite song. You’d never forget Sean.

Kate Howes, Solihull

At competitions, he’d get up on a spur and even if the people with him didn’t know the set, he’d say, “Don’t worry, I’d call it!” There was always good craic wherever he was. In a pub or anywhere, he’d start a set. He was a born leader. He was brilliant, a character. When he miss-called, he’d say, “Sugar.” He was 100 percent liked by everyone. I miss him and think of him more than anyone else.

Martin Frawley, Clarecastle, Co Clare

One time, we went down to Killarney for competitions, and he lost his van keys. He went walking back to one shop, then another, and found them eventually on the inside of a jumper he’d tried on! He wouldn’t give up. He invaded people’s space at all times! He’d knock on anyone’s door at 6am that he knew, ten or fifteen people in tow, asking for breakfast and having a set, of course!

Peter Davies, Manchester

It was my first time at a weekend in Manchester. I was 17 and I was over with the Elphin Set Dancers for the competition. Sean on the Sunday asked me to come up beside the stage. He handed me women’s clothes and said, “Put them on!” I was, “No way!” Well, I can’t repeat exactly what he said next, but I did put them on. He then explained we were doing a buck set. I had never heard of a buck set before, so Sean introduced me to three things I’d never done before—1 becoming a cross dresser, 2 dancing with a man, and 3 dancing my first ever buck set.

Ger Butler

He was one of those charismatic people. He’d get anyone to do things no one else would.

George Hook, Smethwick

Sean would call sets, or parts of them, deliberately wrong to get the crowd to have a go at him, to get them going! He was the most likable rogue to ever come out of Wexford. If he couldn’t do you a good turn, he’d never do you a bad one. Sean would always be at the door and welcome everybody. He never was a man’s man or a woman’s man, he was a people’s man. You’d miss his camaraderie. He kept the whole show running. He was a real gentleman, too.

Pat Quinn, Coventry

He was a believer. He believed in everybody, good or bad. Even if you were crap (at dancing), you still believed in him. I was maybe 15. He gave me something to do, somewhere to go with the set dancing, the Irish Club in Chorlton. All my mates were Irish. You’d never see him down, he was so enthusiastic. He was everywhere. He was persistent, a stayer. Maybe it was just the right time that time! Sean had a lot of spirit. There is no one now that has the same magnetic draw to pull in the young people. Claire’s personality, he shines through, because she is as bubbly!

Carol Donelon

He was like a second dad to me. If I was in trouble, when I was young, I’ll run to him! He could make an event out of anything, make miserable people want to get up and dance! He had lots of charisma, that’s it—charisma! And he was cheeky! But people liked it because it wasn’t offensive.

Michelle O’Leary, box player

He was an infectious rogue. Someone you want to be with. If there was four or 104 people, he’d have a ball. He was one of a kind. We miss him in everything here when we think of set dancing.

Colman Murtagh, Blackburn

Timmy:

The late Sean Dempsey, like many expatriates, found himself as leader of a community struggling for identity in an alien milieu. Manchester, for the most part, accepted these immigrants, who had seen no alternative but to leave their homeland where poverty still reigned in a way beyond modern comprehension. It was a mixed blessing. Many were enabled to let their talents flourish, becoming quite affluent over the years, some, less fortunate or accomplished, floundered in their wake. The church played a vital role in galvanizing the Irish diaspora. Schools, churches and halls were built where the Sean Dempseys emerged to become central figures in their community’s welfare. The Irish cultural revival coincided with the industrial development of the late sixties and extended its roots among Irish communities in Britain, the USA and elsewhere. Sean Dempsey and others, I presume, took this to a high patriotic level, as can be seen to the present.

What is now the Sean Dempsey festival took root twenty years ago when masses of Irish dancers made it an annual pilgrimage. Kevin Molloy recalls seeing 25 coach-loads side by side waiting for the festivities to start. In addition, Sean took groups on musical trips to Europe, which have now evolved into the Enjoy Travel tours to Ibiza, Portugal and elsewhere. Sadly, like another great, Connie Ryan, Sean passed away in his prime, with heirs that have come to the fore and carried the torch with great commitment.

Chris:

It’s never helpful to have a regret in life, but this time, I couldn’t help but regret not having met him. So instead, I looked at the scrapbook. Sean started a scrapbook at some stage, recording in handwriting his outings and pasting brochures, tickets, photographs. His handwriting certainly emphasises what people had said about him—it’s strong, legible, all capital letters, confident and accurate. And then I saw a picture of him. He didn’t include that many of himself, a handsome man in his forties, tall. He drew me in immediately. There is a deep imprinted legacy the man has left for the people who knew him; his footsteps are still embedded in the sand he walked upon without the tide of time hollowing them.

And his believing spirit must have been near when this happened—

Never having been to Manchester, I thought I must go and explore the town. I was dropped off in the centre by my wonderful host, Fran Maguire, Sean’s son-in-law, and found a bewildering menagerie of shops in which I soon managed to get lost. (That bit is not new.) But a girl at a checkout gave some advice (never mind that queue, just carry on sketching a map of Manchester) and directed me to the bus station she thought I had to go to. I had the address I was going back to, and I knew there were loads of buses—what could possibly go wrong?

I ended up being sent from one bus to the next by helpful drivers, information points, passers-by and fellow wannabe bus passengers. I even tried making sense of the printed time-tables. No one seemed to know exactly where the address on that piece of paper I clutched in my hand was, but finally I boarded a bus that seemed to go somewhere near it. After talking for a while with the driver, other passengers, overhearing my plight, started to chip in with local knowledge, or lack thereof. More and more people engaged in what was fast becoming a group puzzle solving session, with an elderly lady kind enough to talk to my contact on the mobile, and between her, him and the rest of the bus, they figured out where I had to alight and how to proceed from there. To top it all off, another lady got off the bus with me at the appointed stop and took me, out of her own way, to the next crossroads, making sure I knew which direction to walk. At times, it was like a hidden camera TV show—naive German lost in big English city, helped along by arrays of willing folks on a public bus. So funny! Back with my host family, they couldn’t believe how friendly people had been, seeing that Manchester had never won any awards when it comes to hospitality and céad míle fáilte. Well, its getting one now! Apart from the set dancing competitions where there were awards flying around the place, Manchester has won itself my award for Willingness to Help Lost Person on Public Bus. Terrific!

Meanwhile, in a hall far, far away—

Timmy:

’Tis a pleasant prospect to have a comfortable chair, stretch one’s aching feet, take an occasional note, enjoy the camaraderie built up over the years and above all, the great variety of dances by diverse performers. Understandably, given the recessionary times, overseas participants were much fewer in numbers, with biennial underage competitions on an off-year. Nevertheless, the action ran well over the time schedule.

A notable feature of events in Manchester is the total involvement of different presenters, whether it be calling of sets at the ceilis or the presentation of competitions by members of the committee. Colman and Josephine Murtagh and Barbara Aherne are annual stalwarts in this field with Mary Reilly a ‘Jackie’ of all trades. Eamonn Nolan’s original claim to infamy a few years ago was dressing as a busty blonde in a buck set and attempting to bribe the adjudicators with brown envelopes at a time when they were nearly collectors’ items. Thankfully, his advances were rebuffed vigorously. Nowadays, since his conversion to normality, he is a sober presenter and caller, his teenage misdemeanours now but a faint memory—still not forgotten, though!

Joe Mannix, recession notwithstanding, brought his sizeable retinue from West Cork. Kilcoo, Co Down, were equally competitive, as were the ladies from Ballybunnion, Co Kerry, and Clare, who once again turned up with a gem of a set, styling themselves The Rhythm of the Banner, capturing both the open set and the brush dance competitions. It was at least as enjoyable as some more populous ones of recent years, with celebrations superseding the competitive edge; all presented very competently. If only the same equanimity prevailed at all such competitions.

Timmy Woulfe

Chris:

The Abbey Ceili Band for the ceilis were terrific, but honest, you wouldn’t expect anything less from them. Three ceilis were underscored with Cork accentuated slides, polkas, reels and hornpipes. Alas, we didn’t get a march from them, although we danced the Paris Set; the last figure which includes a march was omitted. It was fantastic to dance it again at a ceili. Charlie Kiely called the Jenny Ling Set with a deliberate, clear voice—spot on!

The choice of sets consisted of a stew of common and uncommon ones, with the High-Cauled Cap thrown in—loved it. And Colman served cut-up oranges, which were eaten even while dancing—the icing on the cake.

This is Sean Dempsey, doing it again, bringing people together, even chalk and cheese, who collaborated to write this article.

Chris Eichbaum


Diamond Set Dancing Weekend

The first weekend of November is now synonymous with set dancing at the beautiful Diamond Coast Hotel in the picturesque village of Enniscrone, Co Sligo. This weekend was started in 2008 by Oliver Fleming and his wife Marie from Bonniconlon, Ballina, Co Mayo, to raise funds for Mayo Cancer Support Association, in conjunction with the hotel and Enjoy Travel.

The weekend began this year on Friday November 5th with a sean nós dancing workshop given by Kathleen McGlynn, fresh from her appearance on TG4’s An Jig Gig traditional dance competition programme. Kathleen is a brilliant sean nós dancer and also a first class teacher of her craft. I counted thirty dancers all enjoying her class and stepping it out. Following Kathleen’s class Oliver Fleming gave a class in jive, waltz, quickstep and foxtrot. The large crowd that had arrived all participated and we had a fabulous time with live music for the class provided by local band The Duets.

Our first ceili began at 10pm. We danced our legs off to the beautiful, solid music of Brian Ború Ceili Band. All the usual sets were danced with the Antrim Square the only deviation from the Co Clare seven. Social dancing continued with music in the lounge by The Duets immediately after the ceili.

Saturday morning offered a choice of two workshops. Kathleen gave another sean nós class and Ger Butler gave the set dancing class. I decided to take the set dancing. Ger taught the Shannon Gaels, an old set his dad danced many years ago in Scór competitions. It has four figures, a polka, two reels and a jig. Ger told us that there was a lot of ’round the table discussion on the last figure before the format was finally agreed.

Kathleen had about 25 dancers in her class. Ger gave a sean nós workshop after lunch. This was followed by Mass and every chair in the room was filled. Michael Cleary and Breege Kelly gave us superb music for social dancing from 5pm to 7pm. I am always amazed by the skill of set dancers—we can dance to all types of music. What a pity our social dancers don’t get involved as much in set dancing.

Our second ceili of the weekend was a superb night with the mighty Copperplate Ceili Band. Again all the usual sets were danced with the Moycullen and Antrim Square the only reasonably new sets of the night. Social dancing in the lounge to the music of The Duets kept some dancers on their feet until dawn.

Sunday morning our workshop was conducted by Marie Garrity. We had a brilliant morning dancing some familiar two-hand dances and some new ones, including Fermanagh Highland, Breakaway Blues, Spanish Waltz, Swedish Masquerade, Dinky One-Step and Silver Wedding Waltz.

At the final ceili of the festival Johnny Reidy kept us energised with his superb Co Kerry style music. He played reels, polkas, jigs and hornpipes for the usual selection of sets. Midway through the ceili we had a demonstration of sean nós dancing led by Kathleen McGlynn. Sean Duggan from Co Longford also stepped it out, and the display concluded with Oliver and his daughter Jennifer dancing the brush dance.

Oliver Fleming thanked everyone for supporting the weekend and reminded us that all proceedings from the festival would be presented to Mayo Cancer Support Association.

The finale of the weekend was a big country night with Robert Mizzell and Country Kings. A big number of set dancers stayed over to enjoy this event and we were not disappointed.

I am delighted that this weekend festival was another success story for Oliver and Marie Fleming. They are a homely couple with a wonderful family. It is heartening to know that there are people like them who care for others and put so much effort in to their events to ensure we all have a brilliant weekend and are contributing to such a worthy charity. At time of going to press the total raised this weekend is €6,500.

Joan Pollard Carew


Southampton celebration

Letters and emails

Hi Bill,

On September 19th 2010, the set dancers of Southampton in Hampshire, UK, marked two very special events in their set dancing.

The anniversary of twenty years of set dancing in Southampton coincided with another very special landmark, Michael McCarthy’s eightieth birthday, and a party was held to celebrate both events.

Twenty years ago, Micheal and Eileen McCarthy held their first ever set dance class in Southampton, and the class is still going strong today, with three sets regularly attending on Monday evening. Many of the dancers also now attend events in Ireland, Ibiza, Portugal, and beyond; surely a sign of the success of the class and the teachers.

When the first class was held, Michael taught his home set, the Sliabh gCua, the only set he knew. It soon became apparent that he and Eileen needed to introduce more to their repertoire as the dancers who came along to their class learned quickly!

Michael and Eileen attended workshops in Priddy in Somerset, which was then at the forefront of the set dancing revival in England, learning sets which they in turn taught in Southampton. Nowadays Michael and Eileen come along to workshops in Basingstoke to have a rest from teaching, and they in turn introduce us to new sets—two of their group, Jackie Juckes and Dave Adam, first showed us the Claddagh Set, which remains a favourite with both groups.

The party in September was attended by friends and family, and there was singing, music and dancing for all to enjoy. Michael and Eileen’s granddaughter Eleanor played a few lovely tunes on the violin, as did her brother, and there were several songs, one from their daughter, and one specially adapted by Clare Coxwell which made reference to Michael’s vigour and popularity with lady dancers, much to the amusement of all concerned! Michael himself also sang a song, which was warmly received, and which brought a tear to many an eye.

We of course danced the Sliabh gCua, with the top set danced by the McCarthy family, as well as the Plain, Corofin, Antrim Square and Lancers, and a few ceili dances for the non-dancers to join in with. To finish, a rendition of Happy Birthday accompanied by a firework on a beautiful birthday cake.

It was a great afternoon, and we wish the McCarthys and their dancers many more happy hours of dancing, and here’s to the next twenty years!

All the best,

Carol Gannon and Kevin Monaghan, Tadley, Hampshire, England

The floor in Saggart was heaving

Dear Bill,

We would like to avail of Set Dancing News to thank the 230-plus people who crammed into St Mary’s GAA Hall in Saggart, Co Dublin, on the 26th of September for supporting our fundraising effort for Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross; and a special thank you to St Mary’s for the use of the hall.

Most of the good and great associated with set dancing were present on the day. To say that the floor in Saggart was heaving would be an understatement as the crowds responded to the uplifting music of the Annaly Ceili Band. Sean, Brendan and Sean surpassed their own supreme standards, not to mention the excellent fear an tí, Syl Bell.

We were delighted to be joined by the CEO of Our Lady’s Hospice, Ms Mo Flynn, who happily took away €4,975. We know that this will be put to good use.

We cannot let this occasion pass without making special mention of the generosity shown by people on the day and also by those who contributed and could not attend.

The set dancing fraternity seems to be a special breed. We were overwhelmed by the response that we got to this event and people travelled from the four provinces giving their support.

We would like to thank all the people who helped us in any way, too numerous to name. Thanks to all who brought food and prizes for the raffle and the Galmoy Set Dancers who provided their usual high standard during their demonstration set. The audience response showed that this was as good as ever.

A special thank you to all who brought cards and presents.

We truly believe that all those present had a very enjoyable day and went home happy in the knowledge that the money they paid to enjoy themselves will be put to good use.

Thanks again to one and all.

Ger and Maurice Boland, Kilteel, Naas, Co Kildare

Not comfortable for two ladies

Hi Bill,

I was over in Tullamore for a weekend lately and on the Monday I heard there was a ceili in Ballykilmurray. My friend Ann and I had a wonderful night with the great Glenside Ceili Band. The best part for us was the 8pm start and ending at 11pm. We were home in Ballinasloe by 12.30.

It just got me thinking—why are ceilis starting so late? I think all ceilis should start no later than 9pm for the winter. We travel out quite a lot and it’s not comfortable for two ladies being out on quiet roads at 2.30am. I also notice quite a number of new Sunday afternoon ceilis. This would appeal to ladies who travel alone and may take from Saturday night ceilis. Maybe the organisers of ceilis would take this on board and enable us pensioners get home by 1 or 1.30am.

Mary Nevin, Newbridge, Ballinasloe, Co Galway

Delighted with the amount

Hi Bill,

Just a quick note. Through your wonderful magazine I’d like to thank everyone who attended the charity ceili in Father Casey’s Hall in Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick, on Saturday 23rd October. I was delighted with the amount of people who attended and some of these lovely people also brought spot prizes with them.

I’d like to thank the West Limerick Set Dancing Club for all their help on the night, and also Tom Enright for the use of the hall and his help. To everyone who highlighted this ceili and who passed around flyers I am truly grateful.

Last but not least to the wonderful Striolán Ceili Band who played fabulous music. A total of €1,360 was raised for the Irish Cancer Society.

Thank you,

Teresa Lenihan, Newcastle West, Co Limerick

Goodwill and friendliness

Hi Bill,

We would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to all the wonderful people who attended the Sean Dempsey Festival in Manchester, October 22–24, and helped to make it a success. Never underestimate how much we value your support.

We wish to say a massive thank you to the dancers who entered competitions and to the spectators whose goodwill and friendliness created a lovely atmosphere throughout the day. Thanks to our dedicated adjudicators Mary Murphy and John Holian and to the excellent musicians Emma, Francis and Joe. Thanks to the sound man George Hook who did a great job. A debt of gratitude is owed to the local business people who placed adverts in our programme and to Gerry Flynn who generously donated two holidays in Ibiza. Congratulations to the winner of the holidays, Mrs Mulhern. A very special thank you to the sensational Abbey Ceili Band, not only great musicians but also four genuinely lovely guys. Once again thanks a million to everyone who was involved in the festival.

Kind regards,

Josephine Murtagh, Sean Dempsey Set Dancing Club, Manchester, England

Pay the highest compliment

Hi Bill,

Just a few lines to inform you and your readers of our wonderful weekend trip to Killybegs, Co Donegal, 8th–10th October. The trip was organised by Gearóid Mulrooney and Pádraig O’Rooney, both of whom did an excellent job at this. Our transport was provided by Callinan Coaches from Claregalway, Co Galway, and John the bus driver was exceptionally helpful as always. We were greeted by friendly staff on our arrival at the Bay View Hotel in Killybegs. The ceili Friday night was by Ceili Time, who played a lovely selection of sets and ceili dances. There were workshops Saturday—sets with Pat Murphy and two-hand dances with Edie Bradley. A selection of dances taught at the workshops were danced Saturday night at the ceili to the music of Matt Cunningham and his band. Matt supplied the music again for Sunday’s afternoon ceili before we boarded our bus for our return journey to Galway.

All the Galway set dancers would like to pay the highest compliment to the organisers, including Kathleen McGuinness, who set up this weekend from the start, their committee, the hotel staff and tutors for making this a very enjoyable weekend.

Last, but not least, I would like to congratulate Gearóid Mulrooney on the wonderful success of his ceilis in Clarinbridge which have gone from strength to strength. Wishing him the best of luck in the year ahead with his ceilis and all his dancing classes.

Best regards,

Clare Smyth, Galway

Great weekend again in Killybegs

Hi Bill,

Just to let you know we had a great weekend again in Killybegs, Co Donegal, 8–10 October. We had our usual busload from Galway, which we really appreciate. I think they enjoyed themselves and we are looking forward to having them back again next year. Our date for next year is 7th to 9th October 2011. We also had dancers from all over Northern Ireland, Meath, Mayo, Clare, Philadelphia, and Chicago, not forgetting all our Donegal dancers and the camper van ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to thank Ceili Time and Matt Cunningham for great music, and Pat Murphy, Edith Bradley, Marina Callaghan and Clement Gallagher for the workshops. We also had the pleasure of Joe McGuigan who danced a reel for us. On the Sunday afternoon we had two world champion dancers, Meghan and Rachel McHugh, who gave an excellent performance. I also thank everyone who brought in cakes, etc, and for the girls that helped in any way.

Looking forward to seeing you all next year.

Many thanks,

Kathleen McGuinness, Killybegs, Co Donegal

Organisation and dedication

Dear Bill,

Can you please thank Carol Gannon and Kevin Monaghan from Basingstoke, for another wonderful “SetsMad” weekend, 24–26 September. We danced lots of different sets with the more unfamiliar sets being called.

Pádraig and Róisín McEneany provided the teaching for the workshops which were both informative and great fun. As always, their assistants, Mary Conboy and Donal Morrissey were there too, to help us with the new sets at the ceilis.

Can I also take this opportunity to thank George and Linda Hook and Kate Howes from Birmingham for organising weekends in August and February respectively. Without the aforementioned teachers’ help, organisation and dedication, we set dancers in the south of England would not be able to enjoy such great set dancing weekends.

Thanks very much, Bill.

Happy set dancing!

Best wishes,

Jim and Clare Flanagan, Oxford, England

A little daunting at first

Hi Bill,

We thought we should write to acknowledge the great response we have had since our SetsMad Revival Weekend in Basingstoke on 24–26 September.

We have had so many emails, letters, texts and phone calls from those attending that we have been overwhelmed with the response, and feel this is the best way to reach as many dancers as possible.

The weekend takes a lot of organising, in terms of finding halls, advertising and funding, as well as determining which sets to dance, that to have such positive feedback is spur enough for us to begin thinking already about our next weekend event to be held on 23–25 September 2011!

We of course could not run the event without the input of some amazing people with stamina to match their knowledge of sets, dancing and music. Our big thanks to Pádraig and Róisín McEneany for teaching and calling sets throughout the weekend, and to Triskell Ceili Band for providing lively music at all the ceilis—we hope those fingertips have healed, lads. George and Linda Hook again supplied the sound.

Thanks also to our visiting callers, Margaret Morrin, Maggie Daniel and Mary Bingham, who gave the voices of Pádraig and Kevin a rest. Maggie was also a great chauffeur for the McEneanys on the Sunday afternoon when she took them to the airport.

For anyone thinking of coming along to next year’s weekend, please do! The format might seem a little daunting at first, but we do dance some of the more well-known sets, especially on the Friday night, to ease work and travel-weary minds and bodies into the weekend, and we call those that are less well known.

Talk with those who came this year, some for the first time, and especially with John Cliffe from Bracknell, his first time dancing in a very long while, and you’ll meet with enthusiasm, eagerness, anticipation and high spirits. People leave our events with new sets to try, introduce into their classes, remember, talk about and sometimes, wonder at, and we are left knowing we can still have enough sets left over to dance six at our Thursday night class that weren’t danced over the weekend!

If we have missed anyone off of our list to thank, we apologise, but we hope to see you all back here from Germany, France, Denmark, Ireland and all corners of the UK next year, and next time, you could bring a friend or two!

For the record, we danced 33 sets in total over the weekend, with only two sets being repeated, hence 31 different sets see page 16.

All the best Bill, and hopefully see you dancing somewhere soon,

Carol Gannon and Kevin Monaghan, Tadley, Hampshire, England

A downward curve

Dear Bill,

Nothing stirs general interest like a bit of controversy, and nothing bestirs a slothful pen better. I am an avid attendee at set dancing workshops for many years, just as enthusiastic as always, but slightly concerned at the direction these weekends have taken in recent times.

I may not be totally correct in attributing the original blueprint to the late Connie Ryan; he certainly adopted and developed the concept for close on twenty years till his untimely death. People flocked to his workshops in their thousands; hundreds queued up imploring him to do one in their area.

My first workshop was in the West County Hotel, Ennis, Co Clare, and the place was so packed the dancers were advised by the redoubtable Betty McCoy to keep their elbows to themselves! I was one of her first victims; fortunately for me, she didn’t also see me stand on another Betty’s ankle which put her out of action for the rest of the weekend.

Noreen Barry and I waited our turn to ask Connie if he would do a workshop for Athea CCÉ and he agreed provided we would wait till March 1992. We would and we did! Thirteen months!

The programme for our first workshop was as follows:

  1. Gathering night was Friday when some local musicians were on hand to play for whatever dancing was required, just mild entertainment for visitors.
  2. Saturday morning and afternoon Connie conducted his workshop, and once the initial shock subsided, Connie’s eagle eye presided over a great volume of work interspersed with his repartee, best described as risqué! His sayings would more than compare with those of Chairman Mao!
  3. The first ceili was on Saturday night with Connie, after the first couple of sets taking over and conducting the rest of the ceili. Thus, the newly-learned sets were danced by all, much to the satisfaction of those who had attended the workshop.
  4. The weekend ended officially after Sunday morning’s workshop. Many headed home, but the more enthusiastic stayed on for an impromptu ceili, again with music supplied by the organisers.
Compare with some modern weekends where the only set dancing workshop is Saturday morning, the tutor is never required to call any sets he or she has taught, and the rest of the time is devoted to the céilithe or other extraneous activities. Am I alone in feeling that four and sometimes five céilithe with the same sets become pretty lifeless? I will not enumerate on these because my motivation is not to offend but to stimulate discussion on the evolution of set-dancing weekends.

The net result of the present departures seems to be the gradual dying of the workshop and the failure to introduce new sets—which, after all, is what workshops were meant to do. Were I now party to running a traditional weekend I would recommend adherence to the original structures with minor modifications.

Many innocents abroad, who have never danced, think that attendance at a workshop will enable them to become ‘qualified’ dancers. This is very unlikely. However I would favour setting aside, say, an hour, ahead of the workshop proper, to be devoted to steps, both polka and reel, thus making life more comfortable for beginners and experienced alike. But, this is only a minor part of a much wider debate, to be discussed another time.

It is not my wish to denigrate those who conduct their programmes, in whatever way they choose. However, there should be some delineation between weekends, maybe as follows:

  1. Set dancing weekends, where only set-dancing is taught or,
  2. Dancing weekends where greater diversity is the norm.
It seems obvious that workshops and céiltihe are on a downward curve and, perhaps someone might explain why that is so, and is there someone out there who might devise a formula to reverse the trend? No offence meant and I do have a fairly thick skin in case somebody puts it to the test!

Sincerely,

Timmy Woulfe, Athea, Co Limerick

Packed with lovely sets

Dear Bill,

Thanks to Tony Ryan and his wonderful dancing friends there in Galway for organizing the Galway weekend, packed with lovely sets during the workshops! Special thanks to Tony for looking after all his guests personally and particularly for looking after me and my favourite jacket—it’s found!

Thanks to the ‘awesome three,’ Tony, Pat Murphy and Séamus Ó Méalóid, for keeping up the tradition of set dance with great care and humour, long may it continue!

Andrea Forstner, Erlangen, Germany

In memory of Tom Flood

Dear Bill,

The late Tom Flood (23 February 1938–16 January 2010) was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and friend. The love and appreciation he had for his family, faith, friendships, telling a good story or joke and, of course, music has left a lasting affect on all who knew him. For many years Tom and his wife Madeline danced both competitively and for fun in dance halls across the country, making many friends along the way. When their sons Tom and Aidan expressed an interest in music, this was nurtured and encouraged by their parents. They drove them all over the country to halls far and near until the lads were old enough to take the wheel into their own hands, so to speak. A family gathering was never without the sound of music and laughter. Tom was kind, caring, gave sound advice when sought and always had a warm welcome for everybody. He is deeply missed.

The Flood family would like to thank most sincerely all those who attended their father’s funeral, sent mass cards, sympathised and supported them during their time of loss and in the past few months since then. The Holy Sacrifice of Mass has been offered for the intentions of all.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Tom and Marie Flood, Glen, Co Longford


Articles continue in Old News Volume 63.

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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