Johnny Going to Céilí

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JOHNNY GOING TO CEILI. Irish, Reel. A Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Ciaran Carson mentions the tune in his book Last Night's Fun (1996), played in a set with "Long Slender Sally (The)" and "Gosson that Beat His Father (The)," obtained from flute player Cathal McConnell "of Ballanaleck on the shores of Lough Erne." Carson thought McConnell had the set from the late John Maguire, father of fiddle 'maestro' Sean McGuire [sic].

Nicholas Carolan, in his article "The Beginnings of Ceili Dancing: London in the 1890's" (the text of a paper delivered at a Folk Music Society of Ireland seminar 'Traditional Dancing in Ireland', Dublin, May, 1990) explains:

The term 'ceili' is a northern Irish and a Scottish Gaelic word meaning a 'social gathering'. In its northern usage the ceili may include dancing, but the word did not originally mean a dance as it now generally does. It began to take on this meaning in Gaelic League circles early in this century [20th], as the dance element of the League socials began to overshadow singing and instrumental music. Before this, the word had been used in League circles in its older sense. In the Donegal Town branch in 1898, for example, it was defined as 'a concert, tea, and a ball'. In the same year the Belfast Gaelic League were advertising a ceili which would be followed by a dance.

The London branch organised the first Gaelic League ceili on the 30 October 1897 in the Bloomsbury Hall beside the British Museum in London. They took as a model the céilithe held by the Scottish Gaelic Society of London, a body which had been founded in 1777 and which provided a successful and respectable pattern for the fledgling League. The surviving programme shows the entertainment to have been conceived of basically as a concert with uilleann piping and other instrumental music, songs, exhibition step dances, and speeches. Scottish and Welsh singers and dancers were part of the programme. The concert was followed by social dancing, but confusingly the dances at this first ceili were not what we call 'ceili' dancees, but quadrilles, waltzes, polkas, schottisches, and two-steps, all however performed to Irish airs.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources:

Recorded sources:

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]




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