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Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.

meself 26 Mar 09 - 11:10 AM
Geoff the Duck 26 Mar 09 - 02:16 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Mar 09 - 02:59 PM
meself 26 Mar 09 - 03:07 PM
Harmonium Hero 26 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,PeterC 26 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 26 Mar 09 - 03:27 PM
Harmonium Hero 26 Mar 09 - 03:33 PM
Howard Jones 26 Mar 09 - 04:05 PM
Geoff the Duck 26 Mar 09 - 05:14 PM
greg stephens 26 Mar 09 - 05:42 PM
meself 27 Mar 09 - 08:55 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Mar 09 - 07:48 PM
MikeofNorthumbria 28 Mar 09 - 09:39 AM
goatfell 28 Mar 09 - 10:05 AM
treewind 28 Mar 09 - 10:19 AM
Howard Jones 28 Mar 09 - 10:29 AM
Mo the caller 28 Mar 09 - 05:05 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Mar 09 - 06:42 PM
Fred McCormick 29 Mar 09 - 01:50 PM
meself 30 Mar 09 - 09:10 AM
Howard Jones 30 Mar 09 - 10:43 AM
meself 31 Mar 09 - 08:08 AM
Will Fly 31 Mar 09 - 08:53 AM
treewind 01 Apr 09 - 03:36 AM
Will Fly 01 Apr 09 - 04:13 AM
Terry McDonald 01 Apr 09 - 04:20 AM
The Borchester Echo 01 Apr 09 - 04:40 AM
greg stephens 01 Apr 09 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 01 Apr 09 - 11:19 AM
Fred McCormick 01 Apr 09 - 11:33 AM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 01 Apr 09 - 12:35 PM
treewind 07 Apr 09 - 08:42 AM
meself 07 Apr 09 - 08:47 AM
IanC 07 Apr 09 - 09:05 AM
IanC 07 Apr 09 - 09:07 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Apr 09 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Brian Farley 09 Apr 16 - 05:59 PM
GUEST,rewster 09 Apr 16 - 06:30 PM
Joe Offer 10 Apr 16 - 01:21 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 10 Apr 16 - 04:16 AM
Mr Red 10 Apr 16 - 04:48 AM
Leadfingers 10 Apr 16 - 05:47 AM
Mr Red 11 Apr 16 - 03:01 AM
Tattie Bogle 11 Apr 16 - 11:11 AM
Mr Red 14 Apr 16 - 04:45 AM
meself 14 Apr 16 - 10:19 AM
Tattie Bogle 14 Apr 16 - 05:42 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: meself
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 11:10 AM

The thread on "ceilidh" dancing versus other types got me thinking about this: when did the term "ceilidh" come into use as a description of a type of social activity in England and, presumably, conducted in the English language? And was, or has there been, any sort of negative reaction to the use of that term in that context?

The reason I ask is that during my formative years, I only heard this term applied to gatherings of my Gaelic-speaking relatives and their Gaelic-speaking friends (in Cape Breton). Use of the Gaelic language was the defining feature of a ceilidh, while associated features of Gaelic culture, particularly musical, were assumed to be part and parcel of the event. In later years, I came across the term or its variants (e.g., "ceili") always in some kind of relation to some variety of Gaelic-based culture. So I was rather taken aback a year or two ago when someone in this forum mentioned that a "ceilidh" was being held somewhere in England as part of a celebration of English culture. And now I see that "ceilidh dancing" seems to be a well-established institution in England.

I don't have a big beef about this; I just find it curious. Comments, explanations?

(Btw, I am aware that in Gaelic the word "ceilidh" means literally a "social visit", with all that that may or may not imply).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 02:16 PM

Try looking at these old threads while you wait for new responses.
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=61008&messages=30
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=63837&messages=6
Quack!
GtD.

p.s.
Just tried posting this and it disappeared into thin cyberspace. I'll try again, so if it turns up twice, you'll know why


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 02:59 PM

Difficult to say. OED: The Times, 1959: "All over the British Isles today at ceilidhs, hootnannys, and similar gatherings in pubs, clubs and private houses, folk music is flourishing as it has not done for over a century."
Later in the same year, the same paper spoke of "the informal ceididh atmosphere."

Of course the word was used and misused all over the UK and USA-Canada during the 'folk revival' of the 1950s. The OED first included a definition ("an evening visit, a friendly social call, a session of traditional ...") in the 1987 Supplement (noted in earlier posts). They also give a couple of earlier references, but these could be just references to the term's use in Ireland.

See posts by Geoff the Duck and others in the earlier threads.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: meself
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:07 PM

Thanks, gents. Those earlier threads do provide fairly fulsome explanations. I see that I'm not the first one to wonder about the matter ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM

I think this is part of the general re-writing of the English (albeit in this case Gaelic) language. Most of this is being done by the er....Americans, but this is a British example. When I first got involved with folk music, the word 'ceilidh' meant a dance with entertainment spots, which could be singing, music or display dances. I was already failiar with the word, as I come from an Irish background, and as far as I know, that was where both word and implication came from. The Scots use the 'ceili' version, and in Scotland it traditionally meant a gathering, usually in someone's house, I think, for song and story-telling. There was no dance involved. That, at least is my understanding, but shoot me down in flames, why don't you. Go on; you know you want to!
Sorry - drifted off a bit there. In more recent times, two things have happened; the Scots have taken up the jolly, free-for-all type of dance that you'd get at a ceilidh, as opposed to the Caledonian Society type of dance, and started calling it 'Ceilidh Dancing', and the word 'ceilidh has come to mean a dance - of the 'folk' variety, with no entertainment spots. Why? I dunno, I wasn't there.
John 'Helpful Bastard' Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM

I first came across the term in the mid 70s in southern England. Specifically to be a dance with song spots rather than the more modern idea of a style of dance band.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:27 PM

In the Gaelic tongue, as explained before "Ceilidh" simply means a visit. The Irish word "Ceili" is the same, pronounced the same, only a different spelling. While a visit in Ireland, Scotland, or Cape Breton would often include music, song, and dance it is the visit itself that defines "Ceilidh". It has nothing historical whatsoever to do with Morris or barn dancing. In it's own tradition the music played would be from pipes and fiddles and singing would be in Gaelic. Dancing would be stepdancing and square sets. Gaelic storytelling would also play a part in such a social visit. In parts of the Gaelic world "Ceilidh" has changed a bit to take on a more concert type meaning but the proper definition is still "a visit".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:33 PM

The term 'Ceilidh Band' is another example; it used to be an Irish band, with anything up to a dozen or more people playing a mixture of squeezeboxes, fiddles, whistles and flutes, and perhaps the odd mandolin-banjo, often backed up by piano and a siple drum kit. Now the term is used by what used to be called 'Country Dance Bands' before the term became unfashionable. (Although the Country Dance Band was typically accordian/fidddle/guitar or something similar; now the 'ceilidh band' seems to be universally squeezebox led, and often has no fiddle, but saxophone, hurdy gurdy or some other instrument instead).
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Howard Jones
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 04:05 PM

The term was certainly in use in England in the late 1960s - early 1970s. It was used fairly loosely, but would probably be made up of people from the folk song and morris side of the folk scene rather than "proper" dancers, and would probably involve one or two song spots or morris displays. This gradually evolved into a more coherent movement and the word "ceilidh", and more recently "English ceilidh", came to signify not just a certain style of dance and music but also an attitude, diametrically opposite to the D4D crowd.

Many English people outside the folk scene, if they have experienced folk dancing at all, will understand "ceilidh" in this sense. It does occasionally cause confusion amongst ex-pat Scots or around Burns Night, when something more kilted may be inferred, but usually people know what to expect.

English has always borrowed words from other languages, including Gaelic, and often changed the meaning from the original, so this is nothing new.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 05:14 PM

Of course, some dances used to be called Barn Dances, but there have been disappointments when somebody turns up expecting folk dance to discover that it is actually a rock band in a real barn.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: greg stephens
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 05:42 PM

There is nothing that odd in the English using the word ceilidh. A visit to Ireland will reveal many English words in common usage too. The two counties are close neighbours.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: meself
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 08:55 AM

It is odd to me because in my previous experience, as I explained, I was familiar with the word ceilidh as a term to indicate an event a defining feature of which was its non-Englishness. So, to me, it comes across a bit like saying, "We're going to have an evening of Conversational French" when you're having an evening of conversation in English. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it is going to seem odd to those unfamiliar with that usage.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 07:48 PM

The English language, and indeed any living language, is constantly evolving. It has to to keep pace with life itself. Often this involves borrowing from other languages, cultures even. English has for over a thousand years always been a jumble of other languages and very elastic. It's what makes it one of the most difficult languages to learn (For every rule there are many exceptions) and what gives it its charm. Almost any word has numerous meanings, so why should this one, English by adoption, be any different?

In the late 60s in Hull we had a barn dance band called 'The Green Ginger Band' Later on in the 70s the band took a very Irish turn when an Irish family became heavily involved and singing became an integrated part of the gig so we became 'The Green Ginger Ceili Band'. We also had another local band 'The White Horse Ceilidh Band' who rarely featured singing. Many of the new bands entering the scene in the 60s and 70s were made up of musicians from the folk clubs who felt the term 'Barn Dance' gave off too much of the old EFDSS dances which to us were stuffy, regimented affairs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 09:39 AM

My first acquaintance with the word "ceilidh" came in the late 1950s, through Compton Mackenzie's hilarious novel "Whisky Galore" (first published 1947). There, the phrase 'to have a ceilidh' is used by a Gaelic-speaking Hebridean islander in the original sense of making social visit, and is comically misunderstood by an English visitor as referring to a bar of chocolate. ("Caley" was the brand name of a then flourishing but now long-forgotten confectionary firm.) What made the joke funny was that most English-speakers at the time would probably have made the same mistake.

The first time I heard the word "ceildh" used to describe a musical gathering was in Oxford, in 1961. It was applied to what would now be called "singarounds" - there was no dancing - held at The Mason's Arms in Headington Quarry, just outside the city. These events were hosted by Jim Philips (then Squire of Headington Quarry Morris) and Dennis Manners (then Fool of Oxford City Morris, and later the founder of Towersey Folk Festival), both of whom were excellent singers. I don't remember hearing "ceilidh" used to describe a social dance event before I moved to Tyneside in 1970 - it was already commonplace there.

So,who was it who first had the idea of using an unfamiliar Gaelic word to describe what ordinary English people at that time would have called a "sing-song"? (Or in the case of an informal dance event, a "knees-up")? Was it the Council of the EFDSS? Peter Kennedy? Ewan Macoll? Any suggestions?

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: goatfell
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 10:05 AM

In SCOTLAND we have ceilidhs, where the dancing came from not ENGLAND OR WALES but the do have speical places to dance and they are call barndances or hoolies or whatever but the word
ceilidh comes from SCOTLAND AND IRELAND


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: treewind
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 10:19 AM

In case anyone thinks it's strange that the English should use a Scottish (Gaelic) word, we already have many in common use:
pillion, slogan, bog, trousers, twig (in the sense of understand), bunny (rabbit), bard, whisy, blackmail, glamour, pony
see full list on Wikipedia

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Howard Jones
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 10:29 AM

Agreed, the word ceilidh comes from Scotland and Ireland, but it has acquired a specifically English usage which is different from its original meaning. In England, this usage is generally understood, certainly within the folk scene but also by some of the general public. I don't know when it was first introduced or by whom, but it has been established for at least 40 years. The dances and the music at an English ceilidh are mostly English in origin.

When I see a ceilidh advertised in Scotland I know to expect something different.

"Barn dance" is seldom used, especially within the folk scene. It seems to be mostly used by PTAs and the like and is usually interpreted by them to mean a western square-dance, judging from the numbers who turn up in cowboy hats and wearing six-guns. We give them an (English) ceilidh and they go away happy.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Mo the caller
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 05:05 PM

Oddly enough the 'Dancers dances' in the Humberside area are advertised as Barn Dances, even though the dances called may be quite complicated. This confused me when I was staying there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 06:42 PM

The term was certainly in use in England in the late 1960s - early 1970s. It was used fairly loosely, but would probably be made up of people from the folk song and morris side of the folk scene rather than "proper" dancers, and would probably involve one or two song spots or morris displays.

Wot he said. The first ceilidh I went to was in 1976 (or possibly 75), and featured the Albion Dance Band (as they then were). I don't remember a thing about it, as I'd got comprehensively pissed on the road crew's London Pride earlier in the day. I had a good time, or so people told me afterwards.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 01:50 PM

As a couple of people have pointed out, the word ceilidh means a social gathering, Eg., a singing get together. In that sense it was and is current in Highland Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The term was originally adapted to mean a Scottish dance in the latter years of the nineteenth century by Scots Gaelic revivalists living in London. If I remember correctly, and I'm not going to bother checking, they were called the Highland Society of London. HLS were in fairly close contact with the London branch of Conrad na Gaeilge (The Gaelic League). C na G were also Gaelic revivalists, who were anxious to revive Irish dancing and so they likewise started calling their own dances ceilidhs.

I'm not sure when and how the term crept into English folk dancing, but I do remember coming across it in the late 1960s. I suspect its usage dates from around then because that was the time when English folk revivalists started performing English folk dances, and wanted a term to distinguish what they were doing from what older (and staider?) generations of EFDSS dancers were calling barn dances.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: meself
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 09:10 AM

Thanks for the info.; it's all starting to make some sense. It is ironic that it was (apparently) the Gaelic revivalists who, by introducing the term into an English context, started the process of its eventual disconnection from Gaelic culture (in England, at least). If "disconnection" is not too strong a word; "distancing", anyway ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Howard Jones
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 10:43 AM

I don't think it's correct to say the word has been disconnected or even distanced from Gaelic culture. The word retains its original meaning in Scottish and Irish culture, it's just that it has taken on a different meaning in English usage.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: meself
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 08:08 AM

Well, I did say "in England, at least". Of course, I suppose you can have "Scottish and Irish culture" within England. But I was having trouble with how to word what I wanted to say. Let me try again: in English usage in England, among the English, it has become disconnected or distanced from Gaelic culture.

(Once again, this is particularly striking to me because until I came upon Mudcat, I was familiar with the word "ceilidh" only as a reference to a class of social activity within a Gaelic context.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 08:53 AM

Just to confuse the issue slightly, it's certainly possible to book a "ceilidh" band and not call the event a ceilidh. The "rocking ceilidh band" I play in (this is what we call ourselves) plays for functions - generally weddings, birthdays or charity-raising events - for which a large part of the evening is devoted to dancing to us and relaxing to the "listening" tunes that we play. And the band's been playing for over 10 years.

They're certainly not ceilidh events in the original Scottish or Irish senses of the word - and I don't think they're actually ceilidhs in the adopted English sense of the word - but the people who book us know what they want and what they're going to get. So "ceilidh", in this sense, is a kind of shorthand for a country dance session danced to tunes from the English, Scottish and Irish tradition, with a caller.

We don't call ourselves a barn dance band because we don't play stuff for people in cowboy hats and boots - though we've also had people turn up in that kind of gear occasionally!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England
From: treewind
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 03:36 AM

The "barn dance" image problem was part of the reason why we
borrowed the word ceilidh from the Scots (Irish, whatever). "Folk dance" and "country dancing" didn't carry quite the right connotations either.

Ther'e always someone in a kilt at weddings too...

We also people booking our band who think they want "Scottish" music and dances, and it usually turns out that they don't actually want strathspeys, eightsome reels and other stuff that you really have to go to classes to learn because they are complicated. They mean strip the willow, Dashing White Sergeant and Gay Gordons. We do a standard evening of mostly English dances to our usual (mostly English) tunes and they come up afterwards and say thank you, that's just what I wanted...

We have done a dance with real SCD enthusiasts and it wan't a gig I'd want to repeat...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:13 AM

Our experience exactly. we've had people booking us who say they want "Irish" or "Scottish" music - no "English". When they come up to us at the end of the evening to say how much they've enjoyed it, we say, "Oh - so you DO like English tunes after all...?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:20 AM

We always maintained that the best place for a barn dance is a village hall. Barns are usually draughty, sometimes smelly and their uneven floors occasionally led to someone falling over.

As others have said, I first heard the word in the mid to late 60s and it meant a dance evening with a few songs spots between the dances.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:40 AM

Certainly there were ceilidhs at C# House in the late 1960s but I'm unclear whether this was a Kennedy-sponsored move. They happened on Saturday nights and consisted of dancing with breaks for song or Morris.

I remember answering the phone to an enquirer who wondered when the next "see lid" was happening. To my shame, I just couldn't reply as I was laughing too much. Hope they came anyway.

I have a feeling the intention was to keep a certain element well apart from the D4Ds, though some would turn up and mutter disapprovingly and complain about the lack of tea. Later on "the Committee" emerged, became a band and invented eCeilidh where the important element is stepping as opposed to walking the dances.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 07:16 AM

Meself says "Let me try again: in English usage in England, among the English, it has become disconnected or distanced from Gaelic culture".
I think it is fair to mention that it has become disconnected or distanced from Gaelic culture in the majority of Scotland as well. Gaelic culture was only ever a portion of the country.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 11:19 AM

In his regular column, "The Director Writes" in "English Dance & Song" Aug-Sept 1953, Douglas Kennedy referred to "The ceilidhe [sic] atmosphere at Cecil Sharp House on April 15th" saying "it should have demonstrated to all those present the superiority of unaccompanied, unedited versions of folk songs over the edited accompanied versions which have been published or recorded."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 11:33 AM

Hi Georgina,

But that from the sound of it would have been referring to a singing event, rather than a dance. This was around the time of the People's Ceilidhs min Edinburgh, so that possibly is where EFDSS got the name from.

BTW. I wouldn't make too much of "The Director"'s apparent misspelling. Gaelic didn't become standardised until fairly recently and spellings were often pretty irregular. I have certainly seen Ceilidhe with an e on quite a few ocasions before now.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 12:35 PM

Fred - I wasn't complaining about the spelling, just trying to make sure I didn't get accused of thread creep.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England
From: treewind
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 08:42 AM

Nice alternative came up in conversation last night - Horkey. Definitely an English word, an East Anglian term for a harvest celebration, but the content of the event is very similar - general party with music, dance and song, though the accounts I've found don't exactly match a modern so-called ceilidh. Looks fun though...

See The Brook Hall Harvest Horkey,
Little Egypt Horkey Gear and links from the latter, especially Horkey99

Anahata
(wondering whether to start advertising a "horkey band" and see what happens.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: meself
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 08:47 AM

FWIW: in North America at least, "horkey" would have a thoroughly unpleasant connotation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: IanC
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 09:05 AM

Horkey is even more unsuitable that Ceilidh. The word refers to harvest so a Christmas or spring Horkey would be a ridiculous concept.

"In early England, the last harvest loads brought in from the fields were known as hoacky or horkey. It was also the name given to harvest-home, which was the feast which followed the last loads brought in."

:-(


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: IanC
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 09:07 AM

Probably better to go back to the old term "Barn Dance" which, even if there is no barn, gives a suitable idea of what's happening. You seldom get Rock & Roll bands doing barn dances these days and the 50s fashion for US style square dances has long gone.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 09:15 AM

And not forgetting this Classic Thread, due to be serialised by the BBC as a lavish costume drama starring Jason Donovan as Walkaboutsverse :

'English Country Dances', Please


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: GUEST,Brian Farley
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 05:59 PM

Can I give you the Scottish perspective? When I left Glasgow in the mid 60s, the term "country dancing" in Scotland, included both formal RSCDS and informal party dancing. Since then, probably in the early 70s, "Ceilidh Dancing" has been used to describe the party dancing. And "Scottish Country Dancing" refers to the formal RSCDS dancing. This was a good thing, as before that time I sometimes I turned up in my usual student clothes to a dance, only to find it out is was formal dancing. So the word "Ceilidh" now means mostly informal dancing and that's what I've liked to this day. Scottish Ceilidhs do not have Strathspeys - too formal. I was once told that English Ceilidhs came about at Cecil Sharp House when the then Scottish director used the term for an English barn dance there. I've yet to get that confirmed, but it would have been dated after the 70s.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: GUEST,rewster
Date: 09 Apr 16 - 06:30 PM

a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, my darlings x


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Apr 16 - 01:21 AM

When I've visited Scotland, I would hear the word "ceilidh dance," but never "ceilidh" by itself. Are both terms used in Scotland? Are there different ceilidhs?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 10 Apr 16 - 04:16 AM

Both terms are used Joe but I think your experience was maybe untypical. It is just as likely. probably more likely, to be called simply a "ceilidh" than it is a "ceilidh dance" For the simple fact that for most Scots if they were going to a ceilidh (certainly an organised public event) they would expect there to be some dancing. Likewise anyone calling themselves a 'ceilidh band' would expect, unless in a concert situation, to be normally playing for the dancing.

If you were having a more informal party or gathering in your house then you might say "come round for a wee ceilidh" and you wouldn't necessarily expect dancing just entertainment. People would certainly expect music and the use of said word suggests there is likely to be fiddle, pipes or accordians present. The word like many words is flexible though so others may feel different.

I think further up the thread some people are forgetting that English isn't just spoken in England. Many Scottish Gaelic words have found their way into Scots and then into Scottish Standard English and then into English. So it is possible that the word 'ceilidh' was introduced into the English language by English speaking Scots in Scotland and not directly into England by Scottish Gaelic or Irish speakers. Though much less common than the other way round you can still see speech in England being influenced by English speaking Scots. The Scots word "minging" which has long been a common enough word here in the Borders means something has a bad smell. I've noticed in recent years on English based youth TV this word being used to mean "ugly, unattractive" so a common enough Scots word making its way into England and changing its meaning in the process. The same no doubt happened from Scottish Gaelic into Lowland Scots with certain Gaelic words. Though I'd say the original meaning in the Gaelic exists in Lowland Scotland too re the paragraph about informal parties above.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Mr Red
Date: 10 Apr 16 - 04:48 AM

Well I always understood that the term ceilidh was used to make dances appear more sexy. And foremost in that endeavour were Douglas and Peter Kennedy, if not the actual "coiners". Before that they would have been called Barn Dances, Country Dances, English Country Dances, Square Dances etc. Knees Up? Hmmmm, doesn't ring a bell here. Maybe the inclusion of song, Morris etc was to give it some credence as a proper ceilidh.

Certainly "Randwick Ceilidh" (always Easter Monday) follows that tradition. (Think Stroud, Gloucs, UK).

But there is a move to be distinctive and we call it ECeilidh, as in English Ceilidh. The e-mail forum is ECeilidh to discuss aspects & gigs etc, but don't go off-topic!
The dances can be: English, Scottish, Irish, French, Breton, Cape Breton, Playford, Contra, Scandi, and lets be honest, non-trad too.

At StroudCeilidhs.co.uk we chose not to have song or Morris in the break because we like peeps to socialise, it is after all what I refer to as Social Dancing, and that works well. We can get our drinks without missing a beat. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Apr 16 - 05:47 AM

I was heavily involved in Uxbridge Folk Club after my return from the Aden fiasco in 1967 , and found the club was running regular Ceilidhs
as well as the weekly song club . There was so much Irish influence in
the 'song' scene that using the Gaelic seemed perfectly natural .

Incidentally , there was always a schism twixt Dance and Song
during the mid sixties , mostly from Dance ,as song clubs seemed happy to have dances , but dancers didn't want to acknowledge song .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Mr Red
Date: 11 Apr 16 - 03:01 AM

Point of order Mr 'Fingers sire but it is common (these days anyway):

Gaelic - ceili
Gallic - ceilidh

Mr Red ceili/ceilidh dancer (plus Barn, Contra, French, Breton, Latvian, Cajun, Scandi and if Lisa Heywood is calling even a soupcon of Bangra!)

Schisms? with Breton it is common to sing (call & response) whilst dancing, and last night everyone was singing Irene Goodnight during a beautiful Cajun waltz. Thankyou to the Whiskey River Boys.

PS I never realised Delta Blues could be 3/4 time!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 11 Apr 16 - 11:11 AM

Er, excuse me, Mr Red - correction:
Gaelic (Scottish - pron Gallic)
Gaelic (Irish - pron Gaylic)
Gallic (French - residents of Gaul!)

I play in 2 Scottish CEILIDH bands: one distinguishes its intent by calling itself a Ceilidh Dance band: i.e. the evening will be devoted to dancing - unless the person commissioning it wants their Auntie Jean to sing a song, or play a fiddle solo.
On the other hand a ceilidh MAY mean dances interspersed with other "floor spots" - songs, stories, party pieces from assembled company. Those of us who are getting older welcome these pauses for breath!

And yes, RSCDS dances are something else: much more formal with some complicated set dances. And while you are unlikely to dance a formal strathspey at a ceilidh, you might well dance to strathspey tunes/rhythm in, e.g Canadian Barn Dance, Highland Schottische.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Mr Red
Date: 14 Apr 16 - 04:45 AM

I was being phonetic, Tattie. I am hoping for a translation of my FAQs into into Irish soon. The internet has got me half way, a Gaeliphone is working on the corrections. Is there a Scottish site that would get me halfway with Scortz Gaelic ye ken?

Good job I didn't introduce the concept of a twmpath because I "dim sairad Cymraig" (or Cymraeg either).
But we did invite a lass from Swansea once to our Ceilidh and she didn't know what we meant, till I suggested it was a twmpath. Then she came along, look see.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: meself
Date: 14 Apr 16 - 10:19 AM

I used to have a Gaeliphone - of the old crank variety, back in the days of the party-line, which we knew as the 'ceilidh-line', of course. And you know, for all the convenience of my fancy new i-phone, I sometimes miss the quirky neighbourliness of the old Gaeliphone ....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Use of the term 'ceilidh' in England.
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 14 Apr 16 - 05:42 PM

Mr Red, I learned a limited amount of Scottish Gaelic at evening classes about 25 years ago. Forgotten a lot since, but we used the "Can Seo" series on TV, and other materials that went with it. You can now get all these programmes on YouTube: might help?


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