Big House Dance from 1938………

Big House Dance from 1938………

In a recently published Parish Book I came across this program for a ‘Feis Tige’ that was held in the fine spacious home of a local gentleman. The house which is near where I live in Co Wexford Ireland is still occupied. The year was 1938 and the event, which was in aid of the ‘Gárda Síoctána’ (Irish Police) was attended by many dignitaries from throughout the Wexford District. I have this picture in my head of the majority of these posh people arriving at the house in pony and traps and jaunting cars………..
The program was in the Irish language and I have translated it into English. ‘Feis Tige’ literally means a ‘House Party’

The program commenced at 11pm and finished at 5am the following morning.
The music was by the the Garda Ceili Band and the Mayglass Ceili Band with solo piping from Leo Rowsome.
The programme also included various solo singers.
It included the following items in this order:
The Walls of Limerick.
16 Hand Reel
Bridge of Finea
Song
The Fairy Reel
Stack of Barley
Leo Rowsome - Uileann Pipe Solo
Bridge of Athlone
Poet’s Choice
Song
16 Hand Reel
An Autumn Jig
The Gatecrasher/The Trumpeter/The Scrounger
Mrs Black’s Dance Troupe
Walls of Limerick
Poet’s Choice
16 Hand Reel
Song
Bridge of Athlone
Bridge of Finea
The Waves of Tory
Song
The High Caul Cap
Walls of Limerick
Autumn Jig
Fiddle Solo from Garda Sean O Cathain
The Gatecrasher/The Trumpeter/The Scrounger
Stack of Barley
Mrs Black’s Dance Troupe
Poet’s Choice
The Fairy Reel
The Walls of Limerick
5am …..The National Anthem (Amhran na Bhiann)

I am familiar with most of the dances. However I’ve never heard of a dance called he Bridge of Finea, or the Autumn Jig, and I’ve never heard of the tunes called The Gatecrasher, The Trumpeter and The Scrounger………

Re: Big House Dance from 1938………

Bit of info on the Mayglass (down near Bridgetown) here http://thebanksoftheboro.blogspot.ie/2010/09/mayglass-ceili-band.html

Maybe they were local names / tunes? The website above also gives links to some of Patrick Kennedy’s books, like Banks of the Boro which mention music, song and dances here & there. House dances feature and stories of the disapproval of the local clergy.

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Re: Big House Dance from 1938………

Maybe they were recitations.

Re: Big House Dance from 1938………

There is an old song called the Trumpeter, the sort of thing that would have been sung at that concert. I agree that the Gatecrasher and the Scrounger could have been recitations. I see that I have inadvertently listed those three names twice….senior moment I’m afraid…………Thanks for info on the Mayglass…………

Re: Big House Dance from 1938………

Thanks for that, Free Reed. Is the Autumn Jig another celidh dance? The Poet’s Choice is an interesting item, you play the Morning Star and 2/3 of Over the Moor to Maggie in hornpipe time, and call it a set dance. It was recorded back when by Treasa Ni Ailpin’s Trio. I mean to write that one out at some point, not that there’s much to it.

Re: Big House Dance from 1938………

Never heard of a dance called the Autumn Jig. The Haymakers Jig was a very popular ceili dance in the 1950s, I’m wondering if there was some connection. A typical ceili and old time dance in the 1950s around the Co Cavan area of Ireland would consist of the following figure dances: Sixteen Hand Reel - Seige of Ennis - Walls of Limerick - Haymakers Jig - Seige of Carrig - Bridge of Athlone - The Fairey Reel - Some of those dances would be repeated over the course of the night. The band usually played about sixteen bars of a tune to get the dancers on the floor and organised in the their various groups. Usually the band played a set of three tunes (Reels or Jigs depending on the Dance) twice each and back to the first one before stopping for a short break (about 20secs) then off again with another set of three different tunes. Amazingly most of the patrons knew how to dance every one of those dances so it was easy enough for beginners to join in and pick it up as they went along. I have to say that the Ceili Dances back then were enormous fun for the dancers and there was much hilarity and yahooing as they went through their paces.
Two rounds of an old time waltz selection was played between the Irish Dances with an occasional Barndance/Fling thrown in for good measure. The dance was usually advertised from 8pm/8.30pm to midnight with the entrance fee at around ‘Two Shillings and Sixpencet (2s/6d)’. Some bands took a short break at around 10pm and some didn’t. As you can see Bands had to have a good repertoire of tunes to complete a whole nights dancing…………….