Your Top 5 Irish Céilí Bands 2015

What an amazing response we had to this poll – the amount of interest far exceeded my wildest reckoning.

10,030 votes from 40 countries far and wide, with 128 bands on the list which  expanded over the poll week to include 171 bands, suggested by you.

I’m not sure if this is the first poll of Irish céilí bands, but the purpose of holding a popular vote was to try increase the level of interest in Irish dance music.  I can see that it doesn’t need a huge amount of help but I hope it has added something extra. I’d love to see the day where every country in the world has at least one céilí band.

Continue reading

Green Beer and Wigs Are Not Irish

After my blog post a few years ago now, I promised myself that I was going to be as positive as possible leading up to this St.Patrick’s Day but I find myself increasingly dismayed at the lack of thoughtful, intelligent or genuine opportunities to celebrate the best of Irish on this day of days.

Some weeks ago, I received a phone call from a local establishment enquiring if we were interested in “bringing some of our girls to dance on St.Patrick’s Day”. I patiently explained that we are a group of mature adults, not kids and we don’t get dressed up or wear wigs and also that our styles of dance- Irish set dancing & Irish sean nós dancing – were a bit different to the Riverdance style. To his credit, he listened to what I had to say and was open to the idea of our group dance.

However, once I started thinking about performing while surrounded by an audience of very drunk, not very interested people, it turned me right off. And frankly, those young dancers who do perform for those audiences are doing themselves a grave dis-service. So much effort and talent, and so little respect in return.

I think  the sniggering, constant jokes about drinking and being drunk, the colour palette that is stuck on forest green and the frankly ludicrous circus-like approach to St. Patrick’s celebrations has had it’s day.  I saw a frightening program on TV Old Before My Time the other night about under 30’s binge-drinkers in the UK and the terrible damage they are doing to their health. There’s nothing funny about it at all.

Why do Irish people put up with the standard stereotypes that are about a nano-metre deep? C’mon folks, you, me and we the Irish are much better than that and I think the stereotypical drunken lurching with a pint of green beer, Gu*@&#@ess shirt and hat should be consigned to the dustbin of the 1980’s.

Time to sharpen up the act, refresh the image with a celebration of the deep and rich culture that Ireland has brought to the world. Time to include alternatives that include wit, fun, conversation, stories, great energy and creativity as well as a deep soulfulness that is rightly part of a holy day.

How else to celebrate St.Patrick’s Day?

Be activeDance, of course! And if dance isn’t your thing, do our fun fast fitness program and get fit at the same time.  Or do some gentle Tai Chi to Irish music
Be happy Listen to some great Irish music whatever your mood is – soulful, joyful, uplifting.
Be confident – Sing an Irish song or organise a group sing-song.
Be reflective – gaze at a beautiful view or photo, visit a church or holy place for you.
Be generous – Make  a donation or fundraise for an Irish charity doing good work internationally, such as Trócaire or Chernobyl Children International or Save The Children give generously to a friend or neighbour in need.
Be witty – Write a limerick or host a limerick competition- such good fun.
Be hospitable – Host morning tea or a lunch with beautiful Irish food-a gorgeous brack, a dozen scones or bacon, cabbage and potatoes! Check out a few recipes online
Be learned – Celebrate Irish history, Irish writers & poets – seek information online, go out and buy or  borrow books from your local library. Or learn a few words of Irish!
Be funny – Learn 5 new jokes to tell your friends or send them your favourite funniest & uplifting YouTube videos for a laugh- here’s a few of mine.
Be charming – Seek out people you’ve never met before, listen and genuinely engage with them. The Irish are the best people-magnets I know 🙂

And at the end of it all, if you like, a small glass of something you’re having yourself – a hot whiskey, a port or even a pint-would be grand.

Keeping happy and healthy is all part of the day.
Sláinte agus sonas!

Nora Stewart
Irish Bliss

Vote for Your Top 5 Irish Céilí Bands

Great music is the partner to great dancing, and to celebrate the vibrant music we lucky dancers and music fans have available, I thought it was time have a poll to find out what you think.

Putting this list of 157 céilí bands* together has been a real eye-opener, with your suggestion to include bands from as far back at the 1950’s, some I’ve never heard of but have won All-Ireland places in the Fleadh Cheoil  over the years or come from the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan and yes, even Australia!

Continue reading