Step Dances

 

TRADITIONAL STEP DANCES:

 

Job of Journeywork

Composed in the early 1700s to commemorate the many journeymen dancing masters operating throughout the Country

 

The Blackbird

Composed in the early 1700s in support of the Jacobite revolution, when Irish musicians and dancing masters felt that the rise of the Scottish Catholic Bonny Prince Charles to the Throne of England would allow the return of a Gaelic Ireland

 

Saint Patrick’s Day

Composed to commemorate our National Feast Day

 

The Garden of Daisies

The original name was the Garland of Daisies. It was composed to be danced on Garland Sunday which is the last Sunday in July. Prior to the Great Famine, potatoes were the sole diets of the people. Towards the end of the potato season, potatoes would be scarce and of poor quality and many were forced to live on cabbage. It was the customn to eat the new potatoes on the last Sunday in July. This was celebrated by festivities and ladies going to the celebrations would wear garlands of potato stalks complete with pink and white blossoms round their necks, so this day became known as Garland Sunday and the step dance was composed to be danced that day.

 

Madam Bonaparte

This dance was composed in the eighteenth century to commemorate the exploits of Napoleon when it was felt he would control Europe and allow the return of a Gaelic Ireland

 

The Three Sea Captains

Irish musicians and dancing masters sometimes went far away for their inspiration. In 1824, Turkey and Egypt invaded Greece – Russia, Britain and France went to the aid of the Greeks, Their combined fleets sailed into the bay of Naverino expecting their strength would frighten off the attachkers, however the Turks fired on them starting a battle that wiped out the Egyptian and Turkish fleets. The Three Sea Captains was composed to commemorate the captains of the Russian, British and French fleets.

 

Rodney’s Glory

The tune Rodney’s Glory was composed by our most charismatic Gaelic poet Eoghan Rua O’ Suilleabhain who was born in Meentogues, Gneeveguilla, Co. Kerry in 1748. After his education in the local hedge school, he started his own hedge school but always had to move on because of inappropriate behaviour as a teacher. He was eventually forced to forgo teaching and he laboured for a farmer for a time in West Waterford. One day, the farmer asked him to write a reply to a letter he received and Eoghan replied in English, Irish, Latin and Greek. The farmer knew he was a genius and allowed him tutor his daughter in his home  – not knowing his previous record in education – before long Eoghan Rua was forced to flee after inappropriate behaviour with the farmer and shotgun on horseback in pursuit! Eoghan got into the Military Barracks in Fermoy and to avoid the farmer and punishment he joined the British Navy. After his training, he was put aboard a Bristish warship The Formidable in a convoy en route to the West Indies under the command of Admiral Rodney hudson. on the 12th of April 1782, they were attacked by a French fleet headed by a battleshop “The Villi de Paris” under the command of Admiral de Grasse. The British wrote the poem “Rodneys’ Glory” which was very much in praise of Admiral Rodney and the British, on seeing the poen Rodney was impressed and offered Eoghan Ruan promotion which he declined as he only wanted discharge, which Rodney could not give him. Eoghan Rua rubbed chemical to his legs which bought out blisters, and staff – unaware of the cause of  his sudden affliction quickly discharged him to prevent the spread of infection. On his return to Knocknagree, Eoghan Rua put music to the poem and a dancing master named Donnchada O’ Mordha who had come to Listowel with a travelling circus stayed on and started teaching dancing, composed the dance. Some of the steps in the dance have special meaning, for example after the drums the dancer hit the ground hard three times – symbolic  of the cannons going off on board the battleship.

 

CREDIT: Jack Roche, Bruach na Carraige, Rockchapel