Dancing on the Green
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DANCING ON THE GREEN (Ag rincead air an tulla). Irish, Hornpipe. B Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. An early account of Irish dancing was given by G. Holmes in 1797 in a sketch of a dance at Holycross, "From a tour of Ireland." Holmes recorded:
After dinner, lured by the calmness of the evening, we strolled along the banks of the river, highly delighted with the scenery. Here we met a truly rustic groupe; the young men and women of the village were enjoying themselves by a dance; a fiddler and piper emulously lent their strains, which were not ill bestowed upon their hearers, for the shewed, by their rude jokes and merry glee, how open the mind is to the effect of music, even of the coarsest king. Each young man as he took his partner gave an halfpenny to the piper, and then set too with all their heart and soul. Content and harmless mirth are, I am sure, acceptable offerings to our creator, and in a much higher degree than all the gloomy self- denial of the cloistered monk.
Mark Johnson relates that "the great playwrite, Brendan Behan, was asked what he thought of Irish dancing. 'Irish dance,' he replied, 'is a vertical expression of a horizontal intention.' So saying, he returned his attention to his pint." It's a nice story, however, the original quote was made regarding the Latin dance the Samba. Unfortunately Irish dance was considered provacative by the Irish clergy, whose response was to encourage the Dance Hall Act of 1935 in Ireland that effectively ended house dances and crossroad dancing and forced people into the public halls, where presumably the activity (and any extracurricular activities) could be more closely monitored by clerics. London-based Irish fiddler Jimmy Power once remarked that playing for dance competitions was "one of the most tiresome tasks in the field of Irish music."
Source for notated version: Balfe [O'Neill]. Dublin-born Michael W. Balfe (1808-1870) was a singer and composer of numerous operas, and who had an opera company that toured Ireland.
Printed sources: O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 205. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 1735, p. 323. Roche Collection, 1927; vol. 3, p. 64, No. 184.