What Is Ceilidh?


Ceilidh is a Scottish and Irish word, with slight variations in pronunciation depending on the country. The overall meaning is the same though, it originally simply meant a social visit. Now it has come to mean a social gathering that involves Gaelic folk music and dancing, this can be as simple as a gathering at someone’s house or a larger gathering at a concert hall or similar event. Originally, they were a great way for young ones to court. Here they could find marriage prospects in an open and easy setting. Today this would be replaced by bars or nightclubs, but decades ago a small social setting such as a ceilidh was all that the young singles of the day had. In rural parts of Ireland and Scotland they are still a very popular event for the young adults of the area. Many institution and clubs in these rural areas will still hold events for the children and even employees.

Often times on a regular basis or at least annually. To keep them more modern they often will mix in pop music with the more traditional music of the old ceilidhs. There are of course traditional dances that go along with these songs as well. While many these days do not know the traditional steps to these dances they will know the basics and do their best to dance along. The music is often played on an assortment of traditional instruments such as a fiddle, flute, whistle or accordion. Of course, in more modern times they have added instruments such as drums, or guitars. The sounds will differ from region to region and most defiantly from Ireland to Scotland. The dances are usually done as sets or couple dances, a set have four or eight couples and they dance together in a set pattern, they move about from facing each other and switching partners.

There are some that are performed in a circle as well. It is common that a leader will go over the steps before each dance to acquaint the group with the steps should they not remember them or are a bit rusty, there are many different dances and steps involved so this is not an uncommon practice. These dances have become more and more popular all around the world since various groups of Irish or Scottish decent have brought them to other parts of the world. You can also see these dances in some movies as well, making them more and more popular all around the world. While the dance and songs may seem complicated and foreign at first if you apply yourself they are very fun and enjoyable. If you ever have the privilege of participating in or watching a ceilidh then by all means do, you will not regret it! And now that you know the history you will be able to take part in conversion or perhaps even take part in a dance. We hope you find a ceilidh to partake in soon and enjoy the Irish culture and heritage.