Music & Musicians of South Armagh

Music & Musicians of South Armagh

Ceol Camloch is currently researching the dances, music and musicians of South Armagh, with a main focus on the Ceili Band era of 1930’s-1960’s. Bands like the McCuskers, Malachy Sweeney , John, Lowe, Vincent Lowe and John Murphy Ceili Bands to name but a few.
We will be publishing a DVD of dances associated the area, eg Sweets of May original version(not the version in common use today), two CD’s, one a remasterd collection of various bands, one of present day musicians and a third will be the music used for the dance DVD. The third element will be a book about the tunes, the musicians and the dances. We are aiming to publish all three in October, and research, practices etc are all well underway.

We are keen to hear from anyone who has information of any kind on these subjects-stories, photos, tunes, commercial or non commercial recordings etc
Contact details for the individual researchers-Josephine Keegan, Sean O’Driscoll and Tom Quinn- etc are on our web site- www.ceolcamloch.co.uk- or members can post replies here.
Many thanks in advance.

Re: Music & Musicians of South Armagh

Excellent!!! That is good news. Armagh deserves this focus of attention for its music and dance. Best of luck with the project and let us all know when it’s available… Hopefully you’ve gotten Nan Quinn’s information, some of which the dance comisiun should have and possibly family…

Re: Music & Musicians of South Armagh

That ‘Tom Quinn’ ~ "I feel I’m stepping into the shoes of my Great Aunt Nan Quinn who 80+ years ago with Tomas OFaircheallaigh’s help brought to the dancing world three of the South Armagh dances and their tunes, the Trip to the Cottage, Sweets of May and The Three Tunes."

You’ve got it covered. When I saw Newry as a base I suspected as much… Good luck!

Re: Music & Musicians of South Armagh

"Irish Dancing: A guide to ceili, set and country dancing"
Tom Quinn
Collins Pocket Reference, Harper Collins Publishers, 1997
ISBN: 0-00-472069-5

~ if you can find it… I take it this is the same Tom Quinn

I do wish you the best, but I remember Nan Quinn commenting on how many more dances there were in Armagh that she and the Coimisiun felt weren’t interesting enough to collect, or were considered ‘too foreign’. I also remember how much she hated swinging. Her word for it was "slogging", and it was an absolute of hers, that it was of foreign import and had no place in the ‘official’ ceili dances… She had strong biases, and she and the Coimisiun gang were not shy if they thought a dance needed doctoring, adjustments ~ roughly surgical, cosmetic, or both…

~ or worse…

Re: Music & Musicians of South Armagh

We were delighted that Tom volunteered for this critical task; heir apparent to Nan, so to speak.
He is a walking(dancing) mind of information, and the project is about getting people like him, Josephine Keegan, Sean O’Driscoll and others who were part of that era to open up their vast resoviores of knowlegde for us all to enjoy.
If ceolachan or anyone else would like updates and snippets during the course fot he research, register on the ceolcamloch site. many thanks for the encouragement.

Re: Music & Musicians of South Armagh

My one worry is the involvement of ‘dance schools’, the Coimisiun and Coghal, though I can understand that want for inclusiveness. However, don’t sell the soul of the history of dance music and dance in Armagh ~ they ‘NEVER’ danced the dances in the community dances and visiting houses in that fashion until much later, as things like organizations and rules and competitions grew and developed. It wasn’t starched, or angular, or high stepping, and what ‘little’ battering occured was rare and very reserved, but beautiful in its own right. Mostly the stepping for the sets, country and couple dances were very much like the old sets, close to the ground, basic, no high lifts, no lepin’ about or loud stamping, no exaggerations, no stiff backs or pointed toes…no ‘forced smiles’… And it was a shared tradition, between Catholics and Protestants, and it seems the main difference was that the Catholics might repeat the set 7 times in an evening while the Protestants did it only 5 times…or so the story goes… 😉

Re: Music & Musicians of South Armagh

‘sets’ ~ two, as there were only ever two regularly danced in the area, "The Lancers" and "The First Set of Quadrilles" This last set is also known merely as "The Quadrilles" or "The Plain Set". Both are related to similar sets of quadrilles danced all across Ireland. However, the ‘style’ is closer in spirit to its neighbours, such as County Down, video: "All Set", Mary Fox & friends.

I hope that not too much ‘invention of tradition’ happens in the processing… So, while my prayers are with you, and my hopes ~ my fingers are crossed…