These are some of my favourite music CDs, ideal for practicing dance steps at home:
Many of these CDs can be ordered online by following the links above. Otherwise, you should get them in the Claddagh Records shop in Abbey Street,
alongside the tram line, just across the road from the side entrance to Easons, in Dublin City Centre,
or in Custys in Ennis, Co. Clare, or in any well-stocked traditional Irish music shop.
- Traditional music from East Clare, Mary McNamara: Reels, Jigs and Hornpipes on concertina at a slow steady pace, ideal for practicing steps, e.g. Reel: track 6, Jig: track 7, Hornpipe: track 3.
- Kitty Lie Over, traditional Irish music on fiddle, uilleann pipes and whistles: we play track 13 of this CD for our Sean Nos "step around", during the break
- Different State, Paudie O'Connor: lovely slides and polkas from the well known Kerry musician Paudie O'Connor
- Wind & Reeds, music on accordion and uilleann pipes from Paudie O'Connor and John O'Brien: track 12 on this CD has a lovely hornpipe, ideal for practicing a hornpipe step.
- A Moment of Madness, Kerry music on fiddle, melodion and accordion from Brendan Begley and Caoimhin O Raghallaigh: two tracks on this CD were recorded live at a concert in nearby Airfield House, Dundrum, in June 2007. During the concert, a few of us couldn't resist dancing, so we started a set at the back of the hall. Without us realising it and without ever missing a beat, the two musicians left the stage and came down to play alongside us while we danced - a wonderful night and a magic CD!
- Na Fir Bolg, concertina music of Clare and West Kerry from Cormac Begley and Jack Talty: lovely deep mellow sound, with great rythm, perfect for practicing steps, e.g. track 7 is perfect for dancing a jig step
- Bruach an tSulain, The Abbey Ceili Band: music for The Ballyvourney Jig Set, The Borlin, The Caledonian and The Corofin Plain
- Beal a Ghleanna, The Abbey Ceili Band: music for The Plain Set, The Sliabh Luachra, The West Kerry and The Connemara
- Michael Sexton Ceili Band, The Michael Sexton Ceili Band: music for The Plain Set, The Caledonian, The Connemara and The Newport
- Mad to Dance, The Michael Sexton Ceili Band: music for The Labasheeda Reel Set, The Clare Orange and Green, The Clare Lancers and The Cashel
- Popular Irish Ceili Dances, Johnny Connolly: music on melodeon for The Stack of Barley, Shoe the Donkey, The Siege of Ennis, The Walls of Limerick, The Haymaker's Jig, The Sweets of May, The Fairy Reel, The High-Cauled Cap, The Three Tunes and other ceili and two-hand dances.
There are a large number of Irish music and dance festivals throughout Ireland and abroad each year, these just some of my favourites::
- Connie Ryan Weekend, Malahide, Co. Dublin:
A really great weekend, which takes place in January every year in Malahide in north Co. Dublin, in memory of the
legendary Connie Ryan, who played a major role in the revival of set dancing in Ireland.
- Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare:
The Willie Clancy Summer School starts of the first Saturday of July each year and runs all through the following week.
- South Sligo Summer School, Tubbercurry, Sligo:
Takes place the week after Willie Clancy.
- Feakle Festival, Feakle, Co. Clare:
Takes place around the second week of August each year.
There are typically ceilis in Bohan's Bar on the Friday and Saturday nights,
with the Four Courts, on Sunday night, in Peppers Marquee, with the Tulla Ceili Band, and a crossroads dance on the Monday evening, with Donnie Nolan - please check
festival website for up-to-date event details.
- Tulla Trad Festival, Tulla, Co. Clare:
Takes place in early September each year.
Typically, there is set dancing on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Anyone with an interest in the music as well as the dance will enjoy what I
consider to be the highlight of the weekend - the Sunday night ceili in Minogue's bar, with Mark Donnellan, Charlie Harris and Jim Corry.