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Dancing About

Reprinted from 'Monaro Musings' the magazine of the Monaro Folk Society

It was cool summer's Sunday evening in Tubercurry and the first ceili of the South Sligo Summer School was about to get underway.

Click for Barbara & Lance travel pics There were folk from Canberra and around Australia who had said they would be there, but where were they? There we were, in the company of about 120 strangers crammed into St Bridget's Hall off the town square in Tubercurry, near the West coast of Ireland just below the border with Northern Ireland. They were friendly looking strangers, but there was not one familiar face to be seen.

"Clare Lancers" the word came from the stage and we joined the rush to form up sets. "We know this one" we said and went on the side anyway. Paul and Kate and Martin and Nora had taught us well, because we recognised all the dances that night except one, and we managed to get through them all. The only calling on that first night was the name of the set, once. It focused the mind, like being thrown in the deep end and having to swim, and it was exhilarating keeping up with the pace of the night.

Our new friends were helpful and tolerant, and with so many good role models and a few hilarious cries of "Aussie variation" we made it and had a wonderful night. What we noticed most was that all the dances were from the core repertoire of favourite set dances, and we weren't the only ones throwing in the odd "variation" but noone cared, they were there to enjoy the music and the dancing.

Click for Barbara & Lance travel pics Then came our first dance class on Monday morning. Our old friends from Australia arrived, having come straight from the Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, County Clare, and we settled in to the summer school routine of classes with Pat Murphy and Betty McCoy in the morning, sightseeing in the afternoon, and ceilis at night. The ceilis became a little less frenetic with some prompting and the practicing of the dances learned in the classes.

There was Sean Nos dancing and lectures and recitals, but we spent our time Set dancing and sight-seeing around Counties Sligo and Mayo, and all too quickly our week was over and we were off to Budapest for a cruise up the Danube and down the Rhine. A relaxing 16 days of walking miles over cobblestoned streets through Roman and Medieval towns, with wild Viennese waltzes and fast Hungarian Polkas in the evenings to help us relax. We certainly slept well.

Cheers Barbara and Lance


Steak and Guinness Pie

Hungarian dancing on the River Princess 23 July 2007


Please click for Barbara & Lance Travel Pics