Irish Set Dancing: Attracting New Dancers to Classes

It’s a new world out there since I started learning set dancing way back in 1998 in Cork. Classes then were for 2 hours in the evenings, and they focused on teaching one set at a time, sometimes taking 2-3 classes to get to the end of a set. (My first set was the Ballyvourney, and we only ever danced this set figure by figure. Imagine my astonishment when I went to the big céilís and it was non-stop…and fast!)

Time, people and focus is now fragmented, with people ever increasingly busy with other things – children, grandchildren, work, and a general exhaustion from the stress of modern life. There are a lot more offerings now to tempt people including every type of online pastime imaginable.

The other challenges of set dancing classes were ever thus- not having enough people to make sets, not having enough men (men go to céilís; women go to classes!) and not being able to get commitment from people to stay the long course of time it takes to learn sets.
Oh, and set dancing having such a low profile that most of the general public not having a clue what it is – refrains of “It’s not Riverdance”. (I will write more soon about making set dancing visible)

And yes it’s hilarious that set dancing is one of Ireland’s best kept secrets:-except for one thing. Dancing sets is a numbers game, a bit like politics. You need lots of people, and you need most of those people who know what they’re doing.

The occasional upset, misdirection and mistake is great fun for a laugh in sets but not when it’s a complete frustrating shambles every time because there’s just not enough skill and confidence in the group to know how to right itself.

So, here are some insights and suggestions from my long years of teaching and running classes of all kinds;- my efforts of trying to light little fires with the hope of an eternal flame.

Sets are fundamentally about people in a group – attracting them, keeping them happy and ensuring they come regularly. All other aspects of class (below) are secondary to getting people there.

As a teacher/ organiser, you may think that most of your effort should be in perfecting your steps or knowledge of the sets but really about 80% of your time should be about looking after the people you have and attracting as many new genuine dancers to your class group.

Welcome in – In my role as a teacher and organiser, my most important task is to make a welcoming, inclusive environment, where people have a good time, feel they are appreciated, encouraged, not judged and that their time at class is noticed. I also try to take time to speak to each person one-on-one at some point along the way to make a more personal connection. Hopefully, this positive atmosphere sets the tone for everyone in the class.

My experience has also been that the best classes have most people in the class making you feel welcome, not just the teacher.

Providing name tags for all dancers (and the teacher) sounds a bit basic but seeing your name tag on the table as you come in to class makes you feel your presence is expected and welcomed. It can also overcome the embarassment of the teacher and other dancers not knowing someone’s name.

Every dancer will have a different reason for coming – with my friend, with my spouse, likes the social; the craic, Irish heritage aspect, loves the music, likes to dance, needs to get out of the house, is lonely or bored, needs to exercise, wants to be a champion dancer or performer, just for starters. All these motivations need to be sought out and reflected as much as possible in what the class is offering. It also helps with marketing your classes “What message?”– see below.

Feeling part of a group – For my current classes, I text/SMS every group before each class with a little reminder, tell them a bit about what we’re going to do at class and that I’m looking forward to seeing them…”You’ll be missed!”. Be open to suggestions from the group about social activities they might like to do – having a drink/ coffee after class or if they are interested in doing a performance and want to put it to the group.

All these things should help to ensure people to come back, which is what is needed for them as new dancers to survive and navigate the long and windey road of learning sets.

All these things will be driven to a large extent by the interests, motivation and availability of your dancers.
TIME, TIMING & LOCATION are all practical considerations that might need review if you are missing out on lots of people because this is not right.
Time and Location – most people no longer have long hours to devote to dancing, unless they are already passionate devotees. Take into consideration how long people may need to travel to get to class and home again, including finding parking if needed. Also, a lot of people are possibly not as fit as they might be, and 2 hour classes may also be a physical challenge for some.
Think about offering shorter classes -1 hour – and perhaps coupling this with a longer class once a month, or for a weekend workshop, if dancers are interested and available.

Timing – what time of day is best? Traditionally, most weekday classes are held in the evenings. Perhaps daytime classes might draw a better or different crowd of people. Another possibility is running classes immediately after business hours so people working can come straight after work for a class for an hour or so and then go home to relax.

This may seem obvious but I know that there are many classes trying to operate that have almost no visibility outside of the class. I also know that marketing takes effort and can be disappointing if it doesn’t yield results.

Have a variety of ways of getting the message out about your classes and having a plan to keep it going is really important. Trying out new ways of marketing/ communicating is well worth spending time on, and reviewing each method over time to know what works best.

What message?
In my experience, this is very tricky to get right. Set dancing is great fun, good for socialising, keeping fit, has great music, has cultural value… the list goes on. You may need to really think hard about what message you are giving, depending on what drives your audience/ new dancers.

Word of mouth is really the best form of marketing for your classes and this will work well when you have an attractive offering that people want to share with their friends.

Having an online presence is now not optional, even if it’s just a FaceBook page or group. Domain names and simple DIY website packages are now affordable via Wix or WordPress or other options, could be included as part of your charges for classes (see below).

It helps if you have someone in your group that is digitally able and interested who is willing to set up a website and maintain it, including ensuring you have exceptional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) so people can find you online. It’s not really that hard to do a basic site. What it really takes is a genuine interest in communicating with people.

Images – Ask your class if you can take photos or post very short videos of the class in action. Images are so important to give potential newbies an idea of what goes on or to completely break the stereotypes that people expect!

Testimonials – Ask your class if they would be willing to give a testimonial that you could add to any of your marketing material.

Signage – Other options include having some proper signage OUTSIDE your class to help locate your class but also to market to others who might be passing by- include your class times and online address. For example, I have invested in two full sized heavy A-frame stand with corflute signs that slot into each side that includes my online address.

Handouts – Print yourself some simple business-size cards with class details on to hand out to people and to share at your registration desk. (I keep a supply of these with my phone)
I always have A4 printed posters with the little rip-off sections at the bottom (SEE image below)  with contact & online details, to pin up in busy local places- supermarket noticeboards, post offices, bus stops, health centres and cafes are all worth a try.

Newsletters and newspapers – you may have a local paper to provide some editorial to and advertise in, or there may be local newsletters including schools that may be happy to take editorial and/or advertising.

Contact and get their details– Make it easy for people to contact you and to register.
All your marketing material should have either a phone number and another way to contact you to either ask questions or register.

However, take care to NOT SHARE your phone number or personal email address directly online, otherwise your SPAM traffic will go crazy! The simplest way of adding contacts online to minimise spam is to turn the contact into a LINK, with the contact visible only on clicking the link.

I use Wufoo online forms to set up very simple, digitally shareable registration forms for my classes (I also use it for getting feedback, testimonials, etc). A basic Wufoo account is free and I know people LOVE filling out these forms because they are so simple and quick to do.
You can of course collect the same details from people if they turn up to class without notice, using a good old-fashioned piece of paper and pen.

Keeping in communication – Keeping a decent email address list is also important for re-connecting with dancers who may have taken time out or just to share longer form information for your group. For example, I usually only email my class groups at the beginning of every term if the information is longer than is sensible for a text message, contains links or photos. Find out what type of communication works best for your group and for you.

In summary, always have your eye to growing the group because there will always be reasons for people to not be there, and for those who leave or move away. But if there’s always a room of people, there’s a buzz and that bit of extra energy that is magnetic.

Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below or to ask questions.

I wish all you organisers, teachers and dancers the best of luck for more dancers and more classes.

Nora Stewart
Irish Bliss

2023 Traditional Irish Music and Dance Summer Schools and Festivals

Yes! It’s that time again when you start thinking about what you might like to do for your holiday vacation, with hopefully lovely memories of years past where you have partaken of a festival or two. And what a pleasure it is to be able to do that in a relaxed way after years of COVID restrictions.

I have expanded the listing to include as many local fleadh competitions as possible, and also a number of other festivals that have a mix of Irish traditional music options with other related styles of music.

You can find your way around all 83 festivals and summer schools listed here by either using the interactive map below OR by date listing below.

(If you don’t see your festival here, please let me know)

EVENTS April 2023
EVENTS May 2023
EVENTS June 2023
EVENTS July 2023
EVENTS August 2023
EVENTS September 2023
EVENTS October 2023
EVENTS November 2023

APRIL 2023

7th-9th April 2023
Co.Roscommon Fleadh 2023
Strokestown, Co.Roscommon
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

11th-16th April 2023
Co.Longford Fleadh 2023
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

16th-23rd April 2023
Co.Kildare Fleadh 2023
Kilcock, Co.Kildare
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

15th-23rd April 2023
County Antrim Fleadh 2023
Cushendall, Co.Antrim
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

28th April-1st May 2023
Cup of Tae 2023
Ardara, County Donegal
The festival honours legendary fiddle player John ‘The Tae’ Gallagher who was born in West End, Ardara in 1923, with live traditional music, masterclasses and performances right across the lively pubs, bars and cultural locations in the town.

28th-30th April 2023
Co.Offaly Fleadh 2023
Rahan, Co.Offaly County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

28th April-1st May 2023
Féile Chois Cuain 2023
Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh, Co Mayo
Louisburgh is a small town on the western seaboard in an area of great natural beauty, rich in heritage and tradition. Féile Chois Cuain is an annual celebration of this cultural heritage and it has a well-deserved reputation as one of Ireland’s premier traditional arts festivals. It is a magical weekend of music, song and dance, where an extraordinary atmosphere prevails as old friends get together and new friendships are forged. Come to Louisburgh this May Bank Holiday Weekend and experience it for yourself!

29th April – 30th April 2023
Co.Leitrim Fleadh 2023
Glencar/ Manorhamilton, Co.Leitrim
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

29th April-1st May 2023
Fleadh Cheoil Chorcai 2023
Bandon, County Cork
The Cork Fleadh Cheoil is a weekend festival comprised of céilí dancing, music sessions, street entertainment and competitions in music, singing, dancing and storytelling. Under 12 and 12/15 competitions will take place on Saturday, April 29th while 15/18 and Senior competitions will take place on Sunday, April 30th. The County Dancing Finals will be held on Bank Holiday Monday, May 1st. Two qualifiers from each competition over the Fleadh weekend will go forward to represent Cork in the Munster Fleadh Cheoil in Tralee, Co. Kerry in July.

29th April -1st May 2023
Half-Door Club Castletown TradFest 2023
Castletown Co.Laois
After a long break for Covid, The Half-Door Club international Music and Dance Festival has returned this year for a four day event of set dancing and traditional music in Castletown, Co. Laois.

MAY 2023

4-7th May 2023
Baltimore Fiddle Fair 2023
Baltimore, Co.Cork
Irish traditional music mixed with old-timey US music.We believe that a festival is like a river, in that it must keep moving in order not to stagnate. Our festival has certainly evolved over the years. Originally 9 concerts of traditional Irish music over 9 nights on a tiny stage on McCarthy’s Bar, it now takes place over 4 days all around the beautiful village of Baltimore. And while traditional Irish music is still at the heart of what we’re all about, the festival now features music from all over the world. As well as great concerts, our festival now features a packed programme of additional events such as workshops, sessions, musical boat trips, historical walking tours, film screenings, exhibitions and even some Fiddle Fair yoga.

5th-7th May 2023
Sweets of May 2023
Abbey Hotel, Ballyvourney, Co Cork
Like many other festivals in hibernation,the Sweets of May weekend of set dancing returns this year and has relocated from Kerry to Cork for their return.

10th-14th May 2023
Mayo Fleadh Cheoil 2023
Westport, Co.Mayo
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Mhaigh Eo will be hosting the 2023 Mayo Fleadh Cheoil

9th-15th May 2023
Co.Donegal Fleadh
Letterkenny, Co.Donegal
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

13th May 2023
Co.Tipperary Fleadh 2023
Ballycommon, Co.Tipperary
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

12th-14th May 2023
Co.Westmeath Fleadh 2023
Castletown-Geoghegan, Co.Westmeath
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

13th-28th May 2023
Co.Armagh Fleadh 2023
Lurgan. Co.Armagh
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

13th-15th May 2023
Co.Dublin Fleadh 2023
Balbriggan, North Co.Dublin
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

14th May 2023
Co.Louth Fleadh 2023
St. Olivers Community College, Rathmullen, Drogheda
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

19th-21st May 2023
Feile Binn Eadair 2023
Howth, Dublin
A mostly free Irish and traditional Music Festival in the fishing village of Howth. For one weekend in May, Howth will be filled with Irish music of the past and present. Wander from gig to gig like you’re at Electric Picnic but without any entry fee thanks to our sponsors Rockshore Lager and Fingal County Council. There will be almost 30 FREE GIGS and sessions in total.

19th-21st May 2023
Co.Galway Fleadh 2023
Dunmore, Co.Galway
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

20th May 2023
Co.Waterford Fleadh 2023
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

20th-21st May 2023
Feile Nasc 2023
Marley Park, Dublin, Leinster
Féile Nasc began as a one-day traditional music and folk event in Marlay Park in 2019. In 2023, the festival will expand to two days. Two incredible days of Music and more in Marlay Park.

25th-28th May 2023
Co.Tyrone Fleadh 2023
Coalisland, Co. Tyrone
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

27th May 2023
Co.Wicklow Fleadh 2023
Avoca Village, Co.Wicklow
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

27th-28th May 2023
Galway Early Music Festival 2023
Galway, County Galway
Performing and promoting ‘early music’ in Ireland. Galway Early Music is a not-for-profit voluntarily run arts organisation. The aim of GEM is to promote both Irish and European music and dance of the 12th-17th centuries. The objectives are threefold: To bring alive the music and dance of the 12th – 17th centuries in the context of Galway’s medieval heritage through concerts given by international and national performers To increase awareness and interest in this music and dance among youth and the general public through education and participation. To attract an already existing early music audience from outside of Ireland to Galway for The Galway Early Music Festival.

27th May-5th June 2023
Fleadh Nua 2023
Ennis, Co Clare, Ireland
2023 Fleadh Nua in Ennis promises to be an exciting and innovative festival, full to the brim with Concerts, Céilís, Sessions, CD Launches, Recitals, Sean-Nós Dancing and Street Entertainment. Since 1974 Fleadh Nua has developed from a 3-day event to a festival spanning 10 days, with more than 120 separate events, where there is a welcome for everyone. There are many Irish traditional festivals organised throughout the summer months but there are few people who will dispute that Fleadh Nua which started in Dublin in 1970, is the forerunner of them all. The concept of bringing together concerts, céilithe, music, song and dancing workshops, street entertainment, and much more was innovative in its time. However, it’s still a winning formula today as evidenced by the thousands of visitors who flock to the festival every May for a week of unsurpassed traditional entertainment.

31st May- 5th June 2023
Clancy Brothers Music and Arts Festival 2023
Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary
We’re looking forward returning for our 16th year with live music and events over the June Bank Holiday Weekend for all the family to enjoy, including:Live Music in the Strand and Brewery Lane Theatres, the Live Music Pub Trail, the Under 18s Busking Competition, the Eoghan Power Memorial Ballad Singing Competition, Lunchtime Theatre in the Brewery Lane, Walks and Tours, and family fun.

JUNE 2023

1st-4th June 2023
Monaghan County Fleadh 2023
Scotstown village
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

2nd-4th June 2023
Co.Cavan Fleadh 2023
Belturbet, Co.Cavan
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

2nd-4th June 2023
Co.Sligo Fleadh 2023
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

2nd- 5th June 2023
Limerick Fleadh 2023
Kilfinane, Co.Limerick
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

2nd-5th June 2023
Co.Laois Fleadh 2023
Abbeyleix, Co.Laois

5th-11th June 2023
Co.Derry Fleadh 2023
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

9th-11th June 2023
Co.Fermanagh Fleadh 2023
Roslea, Fermanagh
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

9th-11th June 2023
Doolin Folk Festival 2023
Doolin, County Clare
A who’s who of Irish traditional music performers. Don’t miss it!

10th-18th June 2023
Co.Kerry Fleadh 2023
Ballybunion, Dromin, Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

10th-18th June 2023
Co. Clare Fleadh 2023
Cois na hAbhna, Ennis, Co. Clare
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing in Ennis, County Clare.

15th-18th June 2023
Jim Dowling Uillean Pipe & Traditional Music Festival 2023
Glengarriff, Co.Cork
The sound of the uilleann pipes will be back and taking centre-stage in the picturesque village of Glengarriff in West Cork with a festival of great music to beat them all. We have a great line-up, a top Session Trail and a few surprises. We hope you enjoy!

16th June-20th June 2023
Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival 2023
Ballydehob, County Cork
The Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival is an international festival based in the picturesque village of Ballydehob, West Cork, featuring Maritime and other Folk music.Song Writing Competition[ Maritime] which is sponsored by IMRO.Sea songs, shanties,Song Writing Competition, workshops, Craft Stalls, a new Maritime play plus music in the pubs and a Fundraising Concert in Levis Corner House.

18th- 25th June 2023
Co.Down Fleadh 2023
Warrenpoint, Co.Down
County-level competition for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

19th-30th June 2023
BLÁSBLAS international summer school of Irish traditional music and dance 2023
Limerick, Co.Limerick
Intensive “deep dive” workshops and master classes for experienced singers, dancers and musicians with a focus on collaborative integration of understanding between the disciplines.
A residential program at the University of Limerick including international accreditation.

23rd June- 2nd July 2023
Connacht Fleadh Cheoil 2023
Ballina. Co.Mayo
Provincial-level competitions for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

24th June 2023
Buskfest 2023
Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland
BuskFest is an international busking festival that takes place in Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland

25th-30th June 2023
International Harp Festival for Irish Harp 2023
Termonfechin, County Louth
Seize this opportunity to become immersed in all aspects of traditional music for Irish harp. Develop skills and repertoire from ancient harpers’ tunes to songs and slow airs to jigs and reels.

26th-30th June 2023
Craicean Summer School 2023
Inis Oirr (Inisheer) Galway
A unique bodhran (drum) summer school on the island of Inis Oirr in the Galway Bay.

JULY 2023

1st-8th July 2023
Willie Clancy Summer School 2023
Miltown Malbay, County Clare
Affectionately known as Willie Week, this festival is held in traditional music heartland that calls music and dance lovers back year after year. There’s a great atmosphere in the town and surrounds, with plenty of sessions, céilis and busking to complement the official program of classes and recitals. An additional program of dancing is also held at the Armada Hotel- see additional website link- Armada Festival of Music & Dancing.

2nd-9th July 2023
Leinster Fleadh 2023
TU Dublin, Grangegorman, Co.Dublin
Leinster Province Fleadh, which is primarily provincial competitions for traditional musicians and dancers and other artists, organised by the local Comhaltas Cheoltóirí Éireann (CCE).

4th-6th July 2023
Slí Dhála Summer School
Blanchardstown Dublin 15, Co.Dublin
The Summer School has been organised to give musicians in Dublin 15 and beyond the opportunity to come together to meet one another, learn music together and enjoy the atmosphere of a session or two. All ages will find something of interest at our workshops and trad music, singing, and dancing sessions. There is something for all of the family.
The music workshops cater for younger musicians with our Under 12 tunes workshop.
The Teen Trad Group Workshop returns for it’s 4th edition and this is always very popular. There will be dancing and singing workshops which shouldn’t be missed.

8th-23rd July 2023
Earagail Arts Festival 2023
County Donegal
Earagail Arts Festival is a bilingual arts festival that takes place in County Donegal. It comprises 16 days of music, theatre, visual arts, film, literature, circus, and carnival along the Wild Atlantic Way.

9th-15th July 2023
South Sligo Summer School 2023
Tubbercurry, County Sligo
The South Sligo Summer School was founded in 1987 in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo to conserve and promote the rich tradition of music, song and dance of the area. With a full programme of classes, workshops, céilithe, concerts, recitals and talks, there is special emphasis on the old Sligo traditional style of playing.

10th-16th July 2023
Munster Fleadh/ Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan 2023
Tralee, County Kerry
Welcome to Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan 2023 which will be hosted by Kerry County Board of Comhaltas in Tralee, Co. Kerry.Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan is the largest provincial Fleadh in Ireland as thousands of musicians, singers, dancers, storytellers and visitors from the six counties of Munster and beyond gather for an annual celebration of our Irish cultural traditions. The town of Tralee is steeped in tradition and previously has hosted Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan in 1978.We invite you to join us in Tralee from July 10th -16th 2023 for an action-packed programme of events including a wide selection of outdoor entertainment, concerts, lectures, céilithe, sessions, and most importantly the Munster Fleadh competitions where competitors from the six counties of Munster will compete for a place in the All-Ireland Fleadh in Mullingar.

10th-14th July 2023
Ceol na Coille Summer School of Irish Traditional Music 2023
Letterkenny, Co.Donegal
Learn Irish Traditional Music, Song in a county known for its culture, its beauty and friendliness. We welcome enthusiasts – adults and children from beginners to advanced levels on a full range of instruments, and boast a list of first-class tutors. A busy programme of classes, workshops, recitals, nightly sessions and concerts. Immerse yourself in Irish Traditional Music song and Gaeilge in a fun, relaxed and welcoming environment amid some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland – a great week of music and fun for all. Instruments include – Uilleann Pipes, Fiddle, Whistle, Flute, Concertina, Guitar and Piano Accompaniment, Button & Piano Accordion, Banjo, Bodhrán, Traditional Singing – for all ages.

10th-14th July 2023
Westport Schoil Cheoil 2023
Westport, Co.Mayo
Full summer school with tuition, concerts and recitals.

15th-23rd July 2023
Joe Mooney Summer School 2023
Drumshanbo Co. Leitrim
Drumshanbo is delightful – a similar format to South Sligo Summer School, the difference here is the focus is very much around the unusual main street, which has a pedestrian mezzanine above the lane of traffic, where you can sit out in the sun, dance, listen to music & enjoy the people going by and enjoy a number of excellent evening céilís.

16th-23rd July 2023
Ulster Fleadh 2023
Dromore, County Tyrone
Provincial-level competitions for traditional Irish arts of playing music, singing and dancing.

17th-21st July 2023
Meitheal Residential Summer School 2023
Villiers School, Limerick City, Ireland
Residential summer school for young traditional musicians.

22nd-29th July 2023
Scoil Acla Summer School 2023

Achill Island, Co.Mayo
Traditional music courses, art workshops, sean nós singing, writers workshop, dance workshop, sean nós dancing, basket weaving workshops in a most unique location.

23rd-29th July 2023
Belfast Tradfest 2023
Belfast. Co.Antrim
Belfast TradFest Summer Fest returns jam-packed full of traditional music, song and dance, with some of the best traditional musicians, singers & dancers from across these islands. Featuring a week long programme of workshops and a full programme of concerts, talks, lectures, sessions, céilís & festival clubs, this week is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland and brings together both the Irish and the Ulster-Scots musical traditions, in a shared celebration of culture & heritage.

26th- 30th July 2023
Fiddlers Green Festival 2023
Rostrevor, Co Down
A wonderful festival of music, arts and culture held in July each year in Rostrevor Co. Down.


31st-July- 7th August 2023
O’Carolan Harp Festival 2023
Keadue, Co Roscommon
The Festival was started in Keadue in 1978, to commemorate the famous Harper Turlough O’Carolan who lived in the area and is buried beside Keadue. Keadue is a small village of 200 people located on the shores of Lough Meelagh at the foot of the Arigna Mountains. The Festival includes Concerts, Céilí, Tuition on the Harp, Set Dancing, Harp Recitals and a Harp Competition.

2nd-7th August 2023
Kilrush Traditional Festival 2023
Kilrush, Co.Clare
Kilrush Traditional Music and Set Dancing Festival, 2023, is a seven-day festival that takes place in Kilrush, Co. Clare. It has four free open-air céilís in the square, displays, concerts and workshops.

3rd-6th August 2023
Scariff Harbour Festival 2023
Market Square, Scariff, Co Clare
A fabulous, packed three day festival of all things local, Irish and interesting! Don’t miss a fascinating interview with Martin Hayes.

5th-7th August 2023
Ballyshannon Folk Festival 2023
Ballyshannon, Co Donegal
Welcome to Ballyshannon Folk and Traditional Music Festival, the oldest festival of its genre in the world coming to you from Ireland’s oldest town. We are situated on the Wild Atlantic Way in the beautiful county of Donegal – the coolest place on the planet!Every year over the August Bank Holiday we celebrate the very best of traditional and folk music, where our artists and audiences blend along the banks of the Erne creating memories that last a lifetime.

5th-7th August 2023
Cahersiveen Festival of Music & the Arts 2023
Cahersiveen, County Kerry
The Cahersiveen Festival will be in its 26th year in 2023 and each year we strive to bring you bigger acts and greater street entertainment. The Festival is a Family friendly festival with entertainment for adults and children alike.

6th-14th August 2023
Fleadh Cheoil na h’Eireann 2023
Mullingar, Westmeath.
The best kind of celebration and competition, with provincial finalist musicians, dancers and artists competing to win their All-Ireland categories. Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann (CCE) showcase fabulous music, dance and a wide range of concerts and other events celebrating Irish culture. Don’t miss it!

9th-14th August 2023
Feakle Festival 2023
Feakle, County Clare
For a few days each August, Feakle village becomes a very special place where the best in traditional music can be heard, songs sung, dances danced and friends meet up again for another Feakle Festival.

10th-20th August 2023
Kilkenny Arts Festivals 2023
Kilkenny, County Kilkenny
Since its foundation in 1974, Kilkenny Arts Festival has gathered many of the world’s finest musicians, performers, writers and artists in Ireland’s medieval city. For ten days each August, the city’s historic churches, castle, courtyards, townhouses and gardens offer a magical setting for unique collaborations and intimate encounters between audiences and artists.

11th -13th August 2023
Howth Roots and Blues 2023
Howth, Dublin
The Howth Roots and Blues Festival is a free music festival in Howth showcasing the best in Irish roots and blues artists and is organised by Paul Byrne of In Tua Nua for Howth Tourism. While many of the artists are blues based the festival caters for fans of Country, Rhythm and Blues, Bluegrass, Americanna and reggae. Basically anything rootsy!

12th-13th August 2023
Loinneog Lúnasa 2023
Teac Jack, Derrybeg, Co Donegal
On the second weekend of August every year a musical festival hosting concerts, cabaret craiceáilte and workshops in Sean nós dancing, sean nós singing and musical instruments held in the parish of Gaoth Dobhair.

19th- 21st August 2023
Dan Furey Set Dancing Weekend 2023
Labasheeda, Co Clare
Dan Furey was a music and dance teacher who had the good fortune to live in a beautiful corner of Co Clare on the Shannon River.

23rd-27th August 2023
Masters of Tradition 2023
Bantry, County Cork
Celebrating traditional music in its’ purest form through a series of concerts and performances, directed by Martin Hayes.

25th-27th August 2023
Desmond O’Halloran Music Weekend 2023
Inishbofin, Co.Mayo
Celebrating the Inishbofin maestro with concerts, workshops, arts events and free traditional and folk music trails across island venues and landscapes. Promising an unmissable late summer reverie on the beguiling Connemara island, with contemporary music legends, Galway favourites and exciting new


1st-3rd September 2023 TBC*
Harvest Time Blues 2023
Monaghan, County Monaghan

1st- 3rd September 2023
Glenties Weekend of Dancing 2023
Highlands Hotel Glenties, Co Donegal
15th Annual Weekend Of Irish Set Dancing with set dancing workshops on Saturday and plenty of céilís.

28th September-1st October 2023
Cork Folk Festival 2023
Cork, County Cork
The Cork Folk Festival is back this September October in Cork City, Ireland’s southern musical capital. The festival will showcase Ireland’s best folk and traditional acts in 12 venues around the city.

29th September- 1st October 2023
Follow Me up to Carlow 2023
Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow
A lovely weekend of set dancing workshops and céilís.


13th-15th October 2023
Diamond Set Dancing Weekend 2023
Diamond Coast Hotel, Enniscrone, Co Sligo
A weekend of music and set dancing.

20th October 2023
Ed Reavy Traditional Music Festival
Blackwater, Cavan
Cavan Town CCÉ present a festival celebrating the music of Ed Reavy, renowned Irish-American musician/composer of traditional dance tunes.

27th-29th October 2023
Carryduff Set Dancing Halloween Weekend 2023
St Joseph’s Hall, Carryduff, Co Down
Set dancing weekend with lots of craic celebrating Hallowe’en weekend.

27th-29th October 2023 TBC*
Cooley-Collins Traditional Festival 2023
Gort, Co.Galway

27th October – 5th November 2023
Sligo Live 2023
Sligo, County Sligo
Sligo Live is a community centred festival created by musicians and music lovers to showcase the very best of talent – internationally established and emerging.


3rd-5th November 2023
Longford Set Dancing Weekend 2023
Longford Arms, Longford
A full weekend of set dancing céilís, sets and two hand dancing workshops.


Wishing you hours of joy and happiness on your music and dance journey this year.
You never know – I might see you there!
Nora Stewart
Irish Bliss
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How will we ever get back to dancing?

Set dancing is under threat – again. It has faced extinction before and managed a successful revival, albeit after many, many years.

We have reached a stage of serious mourning for the loss of our beloved set dancing, with this pandemic stretching on into years- a loss we never thought possible.

In these dark times, it seems that life will never get back to normal and that is probably mostly true. However, it can be good again but it will have to be different.

As a person who has had my long-term health and subsequent dancing ability completely and adversely affected by other viruses, bacteria and fungi, I have strong reason for wanting this to happen.

The Virus

The SARS CoV-2 virus is highly infectious, as we all know, and is very airborne, which means it travels on the wind, on pollution particles and through people expelling it via coughing, sneezing, singing, shouting or speaking loudly. It can be spread through air conditioning systems & is obviously spread through touching contaminated surfaces.

It has on average a 6 day incubation period but can be anywhere up to 14 days- varies between individuals – which means that anyone who has come in contact with the virus may develop symptoms any time for 2 weeks – it is not safe to come in contact with anyone at any time during that period- isolation is recommended.

And most difficult of all, can be asymptomatic, which means people can be carrying the virus, spreading it without any symptoms of feeling unwell or any idea they have the virus.

Vaccinations are now being delivered and are a work-in-progress.  The timeframe for getting everyone successfully and effectively inoculated could be years, and meanwhile, other variants and other viruses are likely to arise.

Long-distance travel is going to continue to be fraught with problems for some years to come. And to top it off, the experts say that the likelihood of future pandemics is high whilst ever we continue to mess with the boundaries of wild animals and nature.

I have many more questions than answers, but now is the time for us all to start thinking and planning for a different and better future.


Set dancing can only be done as a communal activity and we all need to continue to be mindful and care for our dancer friends.

Set dancing itself is inherently an up-close-and-personal experience, which is why it is a very human, socially satisfying past time. Holding hands with lots of touch, couples are close, groups of eight in very close quarters doing all the moves we love so much –chaining, christmas and dancing at home.

Past dancing environments have generally paid little attention to health basics – no obvious hand washing options, poor or no hall ventilation, scant floor and other cleaning, and no expectation that dancers who were potentially ill & contagious would exclude themselves.

This is not a criticism of organizers because I know how much work is involved in organizing classes, workshops, céilíthe and festivals – I have done many myself.

Our generally slack attitude to health basics is widespread in all our communities, well beyond dancing, particularly when it comes to public health.

Community and public amenities have often become second-class, the poor relation to well-resourced private enterprises. There was a time when society took pride in having the very best for our shared spaces- look at all the beautiful churches and halls that were built in times past.

Poor infrastructure and low expectations have combined to make it difficult for organizers to insist on a higher than usual standard of hygiene. It has also been frankly embarassing to even discuss these issues. This will all need to change if we are to have any dancing community into the future.

We need a new attitude to ensure that set dancing thrives, and that all set dancing is done in a safe and healthy environment as is possible to give it the best chance of continuing.

We need some durable options to protect ourselves, and our dancing into the future, and here are some thoughts and suggestions.

Continue reading

Your Top 10 Irish Set Dances 2017

THANKS to everyone who voted this year we had a smaller vote overall but there is  considerable consistency in the results of the top 10 set dances over the last 3 years – find the results here.

The Claddagh, Moycullen and the Antrim Square sets did very well this year compared with previous years… I feel the Down Under vote making its’ presence felt there!

82 sets got at least one vote, so while there is mass popularity of some sets, there is a healthy variety in favourite dances – worth considering for céilí and teaching programs.

However, the Clare  Lancers come out on top this year – a wonderfully playful set, as you can see by one of my absolute favourite dance film clips here:

And there’s no better person that likes to play and dance, than my special friend Michael W.  He specialises in getting  everyone “organised” for the alternative second figure… go figure! (Anyone who had danced at the Willie Clancy will know what and whom I speak about).

RANK 2017
1 Clare Lancers 28
2 Ballyvourney Jig 25
3 Claddagh 21
4 Moycullen 20
5= Antrim Square 19
5= Clare Plain (Reel) 19
5= Merchant 19
6= Cashel 18
6= Connemara Reel 18
7 Corofin Plain 16
8 Caledonian 12
9 Newport 11
10= Paris 10
10= West Kerry 10
11= Kilfenora Plain 9
11= Labasheeda 9
12= Borlin 8
12= Boyne 8
12= Mazurka 8
12= Rinkinstown 8
13= Black Valley Square Jig 7
13= Clare Orange and Green 7
13= North Kerry 7
13= Sliabh Luachra (AKA North Cork Polka) 7
14= Aran 6
14= Metal Bridge 6
14= Skibbereen 6
15= Caragh Lake Jig 5
15= Derrada 5
15= Williamstown 5
16= Hurry the Jug 4
16= South Kerry 4
17= Auban 3
17= Ballyvourney Reel 3
18= Ballycommon 2
18= Birr 2
18= Carrobeg Set 2
18= Connemara Jig (AKA Freres Nantes) 2
18= Corballa 2
18= Donegal 2
18= Durrow Threshing 2
18= Fermanagh 2
18= Fermanagh Quadrilles 2
18= Jack Canny Half 2
18= Kildownet Half 2
18= Laois Lancers 2
18= Melleray Lancers 2
18= Portmagee Jig Set (Meserts) 2
18= Sliabh Fraoch 2
18= South Galway Reel (AKA South Galway Half ) 2
18= South Sligo Lancers 2
19= Ardgroom Polka 1
19= Australian Half 1
19= Ballinvreenagh 1
19= Ballyfin 1
19= Ballykeale 1
19= Borlin Jenny 1
19= Caherciveen 1
19= Croisloch 1
19= Cuchulainn 1
19= Cuil Aodha 1
19= Dublin 1
19= Dunmanway 1
19= Inis Oirr 1
19= Jenny Lind 1
19= Kavaneg 1
19= Kilkenny Lancers 1
19= Knockanore 1
19= Limerick Orange and Green 1
19= Lusmagh 1
19= Meelick Polka 1
19= Moate 1
19= Monaghan 1
19= Newmarket Meserts 1
19= Newmarket Plain 1
19= Seit Chamus 1
19= Sidmouth 1
19= Sliabh gCua 1
19= Sligo 1
19= Templebeg 1
19= Valentia Right and Left 1
19= Waterford Jig 1

Thanks again and happy dancing.
Nora Stewart
Irish Bliss

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Vote For Your Top 10 Irish Set Dances 2017

Aah, it’s been a while since my last post but I thought it would be nice to engage and see if dancers across the globe are interested in making their favourite sets known, like we did in 2015 and 2016.

I am just doing this for the craic – there are no prizes or accolades for the winning sets- just like there’s no prizes for set dancing:- we do it for the fun of it.


  • Pick your top 10 –  Tick up to 10 sets you love dancing the most you can add up to 10 additional sets at the bottom if your favourites are not listed. PLEASE ADD THEM ALL INTO THE ONE BOX – OTHER- with a comma between each set name.
  • Your favorite NEW set? I suggest you add these into the COMMENTS box below if you especially want to highlight that, and I will include a listing in the final results.
  • Vote once – You can only vote once, so choose carefully.
  • Closes – This poll is open for 1 week until around midnight Sunday 7th January 2018.
  • Final results – full results will be published on Monday 8th January 2018.  You can also see how it’s going by returning to this post and clicking on VIEW RESULTS at the bottom of the sets list.
  • Privacy – no private information is collected in this survey- completely anonymous.
  • Can’t see the poll below? Switch from private browsing in your internet browser may help. (Sorry, can’t do much about that for those worried about privacy.)
  • PLEASE SHARE this poll. Thank-you!

Happy dancing!

Nora Stewart
Irish Bliss

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2016 Irish Traditional Music and Dance Summer Schools and Festivals

If you are anywhere near Ireland this Northern hemisphere summer, there is absolutely no excuse for not learning to play, sing or dance. Festivals and summer schools are burgeoning, with most offering opportunities to learn Irish set dancing, Irish sean nós dancing and/ or to learn to play or master a range of traditional musical instruments, as well as a wide range of concerts, céilís and lectures. And, of course, there are the four provincial fleadhanna (flaa-na), festivals incorporating competitions for traditional musicians and dancers, with the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann  being hosted by Ennis, Co.Clare in August this year.

This listing has now been updated for 2018.

There is a tangible increase in 2016 for opportunities to learn and compete at sean nós dancing, to attend singing classes and performances, and much more on offer specifically for children.

You can find your way around all 38 festivals listed here by either using the interactive map or by scrolling the date listing below, which also includes a brief description.

(If you don’t see your festival here, please let me know)

JUNE 2016

Friday 10th – Sunday 12th June 2016
Craiceann International Bodhrán Summer School 
Inis Oirr, Co.Galway (Aran Islands)

Friday 10th – Sunday 12th June, 2016
Doolin Folk Festival
Doolin, Co.Clare

Sunday 12th June- Thursday 16th June 2016         
Enniscrone Irish and Country Music Festival          
Enniscrone, Co.Sligo
The 5 day festival brings together some of the best Country and Western stars under one roof in the Diamond Coast Hotel but the festival also gives the opportunity for people to take part in set dance workshops, ballroom and social dance workshops, music tutorials, sessions and with music and dance taking place till late in the night.

Sunday 12th-Sunday 19th June 2016
Galway Sessions
Galway city, Co.Galway
Dedicated this year to the memory of Éamonn Ceannt, there will be lectures, music, recitals and wide range of other events.

Thursday 16th -Sunday 19th June 2016
Jim Dowling Uillean Pipe & Traditional Music Festival
Glengarriff, Co.Cork

Friday 17th June – Saturday 18th June 2016         
All-Ireland Sean Nós Dance Festival          
Athboy, Co Meath, Ireland          
A summer sean nós festival with workshops, sessions, céilís and a competition with a top prize of €500.

Monday 20th June – Friday 1st July 2016         
Limerick, Co.Limerick     
Intensive “deep dive” workshops and master classes for experienced singers, dancers and musicians with a focus on collaborative integration of understanding between the disciplines- a residential program at the University of Limerick.

Saturday 25th-Sunday 26th June 2016 & Saturday 2nd – Sunday 3rd July 2016
Fleadh Cheoil Chonnacht 2016         
Strokestown,  Co.Roscommon 
Connacht Province Fleadh, which is primarily provincial competitions for traditional musicians, dancers & other artists, organised by the local Comhaltas Cheoltóirí Éireann (CCE).

Saturday 25th-Sunday 26th June 2016          
Carlow Set Dance Weekend 2016
Weekend of set dancing workshops and céilís.
Carlow, Co. Carlow         

JULY 2016

Saturday 2nd July- Saturday 9th July 2016         
Willie Clancy Summer School 
Miltown Malbay, Co.Clare  
Affectionately known as Willie Week, this is probably the longest running of these festivals. There’s always a great buzz in Miltown: we call it Set Dancing Mecca! Classes for music and dance are run each morning from 10-1pm from Monday – Saturday, interspersed with a wide range of afternoon and evening set dancing céilís around the area, singing sessions & music sessions in pubs. Highly recommended for those who want full immersion, deep dive into Irish culture & craic.

Monday July 4th– Friday July 8th 2016
The Junior Davey Bodhrán Academy
Gorteen, Co Sligo

Monday 4th July-Sunday 10th July 2016         
Leinster Fleadh Cheoil 2016         
Kilkenny, Co.Kilkenny
Leinster Province Fleadh, which is primarily provincial competitions for traditional musicians and dancers and other artists, organised by the local Comhaltas Cheoltóirí Éireann (CCE).

Sunday 10th July- Saturday 16th July 2016         
South Sligo Summer School         
Tubbercurry, Co.Sligo
This has become my favorite festival for it’s laid back nature but also the learning to dance program is excellent. Different energy to Willie Clancy, it’s more intimate, gentler and very enjoyable in this beautiful part of Co.Sligo, with very deep music & dance tradition. Set dancing and music classes are in the morning 10am-1pm, a sean nós dance program in the afternoon from 4-6pm, and a range of concerts in the afternoons, and set dancing céilís in the evenings, with sessions in the pubs to follow.

Monday 11th July– Friday 15th July  2016
Ceol na Coille Summer School of Irish Traditional Music
Letterkenny, Co.Donegal

Monday 11th July– Friday 15th July  2016
Westport Scoil Cheoil 2016
Westport, Co.Mayo
Full summer school with tuition, concerts and recitals.

Monday 11th July- Friday 15th July 2016         
Sean Nós ar an tSionnan Feet and Beat Summer Camp
Ballymote, Co Sligo
A week of dance training for children from 7 to 15 years.

Friday 15th July – Sunday 17th July 2016         
Danny Webster Weekend
Meenaneary, Co Donegal         
Kilkenny’s master accordionist visits Donegal for a weekend of three céilís.

Friday 16th July -Sunday 25th July 2016         
Ulster Fleadh 2016         
Bangor, Co.Down 
Ulster Province Fleadh, which is primarily provincial competitions for traditional musicians and dancers and other artists, organised by the local Comhaltas Cheoltóirí Éireann (CCE).

Saturday 16th July – Sunday 17th July         
Munster Fleadh 2016          
Muster Province Fleadh, which is primarily provincial competitions for traditional musicians and dancers and other artists, organised by the local Comhaltas Cheoltóirí Éireann (CCE).

Saturday 16th July – Sunday 17th July         
Céilí at the Crossroads Festival         
Annual céilí at the Crossroads – an opportunity to dance outside!

Sunday 17th July – Saturday 24thJuly 2016         
Joe Mooney Summer School         
Drumshanbo Co. Leitrim
Drumshanbo is delightful – a similar format to South Sligo Summer School, the difference here is the focus is very much around the unusual main street, which has a pedestrian mezzanine above the lane of traffic, where you can sit out in the sun, dance, listen to music & enjoy the people going by and enjoy a number of excellent evening céilís.

July 18th – 22nd, 2016
Meitheal Residential Summer School
Villiers School, Limerick City, Ireland
Residential Summer School for young traditional musicians.

Monday 18th July – Friday 22nd July          
Get in Step Summer Camp         
Riverstown, Co Sligo
€60 for five classes sean nós and set dancing summer school for kids from 5 to 17 years from 10am–2pm daily         
Eimear Mulvey (086) 258 4465

Friday 22nd July- Sunday 24th July          
Kilrush Traditional Festival         
Kilrush, Co Clare         
Free outdoor céilís in the market square are the big attraction at this weekend organised by Kilrush Comhaltas|-9.481393|14

Saturday 23rd July  – Saturday 30th July 2016
Scoil Acla Summer School
Achill Island, Co.Mayo
Traditional Music Courses, Art Workshops, Sean Nós Singing, Writers Workshop, Dance Workshop, Sean Nós Dancing,  Basket Weaving Workshops

Monday 25th July- Sunday 31 July 2016          
Kilcar Fleadh          
Kilcar, Co Donegal
A village on the wild Atlantic coast of Donegal hosts this week-long music and dance festival.  

Monday 25th July – Sunday 31 July 2016         
Summer Festival of Dance          
Ballyfin, Co Laois
Maureen Culleton, one of Ireland’s best-known dance teachers organises this festival for the love of music, song and dance.

Monday 25th July 2016          
O’Carolan Summer School and Harp Festival         
Keadue, Co Roscommon         
The Irish composer Turlough O’Carolan is the inspiration for this summer school and festival in this gorgeous town.

Monday July 25th- Friday 29th 2016         
Liffey Trust Studios, 117-126 Upper Sheriff Street, Dublin 1       
Rince 2016-Treblehop 
Irish step dancing intensive tuition including solo technique, stage performance, céilí, show style and injury prevention.

Friday July 29th –  Sunday 31st July  2016
Ballyshannon Folk Festival
Ballyshannon, County Donegal

Saturday 30th July 2016          
James Morrison Traditional Music Festival         
Riverstown, Co Sligo.    
A full trad festival with open air céilís, concerts, sessions and more in the home village of a fiddler who became famous in the USA.


Saturday 31st July – 7th August 2016         
The Irish Dance Festival         
Carlingford, Co.Louth   
Spend a week learning from some of the world’s best Irish dance masters of three styles – step, set and sean nós – and connect with fellow lovers of Irish dance by immersing yourself in Irish culture and heritage.

Wednesday 3 August-Monday 8th August          
Feakle International Festival of Traditional Music          
Feakle, Co Clare  
The big festival in the small village of Feakle runs for seven days from Wednesday to Monday with many concerts & sessions in addition to the dancing events shown here.

Monday 8 August – Friday 12 August          
Get in Step Summer Camp         
Kilcummin, Co,Kerry      
Sean nós and set dancing summer school for kids from 5 to 17 years.   
Adrian Moriarty (087) 933 0768

Monday 8 August- Friday 12 August 2016         
Sean Nós ar an tSionann Feet and Beat Summer Camp
Drumshanbo Co. Leitrim         
A week of dance training for children from 7 to 15 years.

Sunday 14th August- Monday 22 August 2016          
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann         
Ennis, Co Clare
Nearly two weeks of fabulous music, dance and a wide range of concerts and other events celebrating Irish culture. Don’t miss it!

Wednesday 17 August – Sunday 21 August 2016         
Masters of Tradition         
Bantry, Cork
Celebrating traditional music in its’purest form through a series of concerts and performances, directed by Martin Hayes.

Thursday 18th August- Sunday 21st August 2016
Coleman Traditional Festival
Gurteen, Co.Sligo

The Coleman Traditional Irish Music Centre is a celebration of Irish Music, Culture and Heritage as expressed in the South Sligo Style of music played by Michael Coleman and other musicians of his time.
This community based enterprise in Gurteen, Co.Sligo, Ireland is dedicated to ensuring that the tradition of Irish music remains a living one ‘an traidisiún beo’ and that it continues to be enjoyed by all ages and nationalities.

Enjoy the craic!
Nora Stewart
Irish Bliss

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Your Top 5 Sets for 2016

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

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

Continue reading

Vote For Your Top 5 Sets 2016

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

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

Continue reading

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

2015 Irish Set Dancing Summer Festivals Céilí Planner

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

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

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

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

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