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What is a Céilidh

Simon G 11 Jan 10 - 08:36 PM
Tattie Bogle 11 Jan 10 - 09:00 PM
GUEST,julia 11 Jan 10 - 09:02 PM
Simon G 11 Jan 10 - 09:14 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 11 Jan 10 - 10:55 PM
katlaughing 11 Jan 10 - 11:47 PM
GUEST,baz parkes 12 Jan 10 - 02:56 AM
Mo the caller 12 Jan 10 - 07:04 AM
GUEST 12 Jan 10 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,HiLo 12 Jan 10 - 09:47 AM
Cuilionn 12 Jan 10 - 10:52 AM
Simon G 12 Jan 10 - 11:40 AM
Cuilionn 12 Jan 10 - 01:05 PM
Simon G 12 Jan 10 - 04:28 PM
Cuilionn 12 Jan 10 - 04:46 PM
Jack Campin 12 Jan 10 - 09:06 PM
Cuilionn 12 Jan 10 - 09:21 PM
GUEST,julia 12 Jan 10 - 11:48 PM
Nigel Parsons 13 Jan 10 - 05:18 AM
Richard Mellish 13 Jan 10 - 07:08 AM
Uncle Phil 13 Jan 10 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,banjoman 13 Jan 10 - 10:26 AM
Declan 13 Jan 10 - 05:09 PM
Ross Campbell 13 Jan 10 - 08:52 PM
GUEST 21 Jan 10 - 07:20 AM
Mr Red 21 Jan 10 - 01:05 PM
Mr Red 29 Jan 10 - 09:27 AM
Hamish 29 Jan 10 - 09:37 AM
GUEST,Willie 12 Feb 10 - 04:21 AM
GUEST,Willie 12 Feb 10 - 04:23 AM
GUEST,Betsy 12 Feb 10 - 06:09 AM
Howard Jones 12 Feb 10 - 06:20 AM
GUEST,Baz Parkes 12 Feb 10 - 09:30 AM
GUEST 12 Feb 10 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,Mr Red - keeping trying till it posts 12 Feb 10 - 09:56 AM
Howard Jones 13 Feb 10 - 07:30 AM
MGM·Lion 14 Feb 10 - 07:03 AM
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Subject: What is a Céilidh
From: Simon G
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 08:36 PM

Just been reading Fifteenth Night at the Ceilidh Palace and discovered to my surprise that a Céilidh in Maine is what I would call a session. I think in the UK and Ireland it would always be a session with a céilidh being strictly a dance event with live celtic music.

Here in mainland Nova Scotia playing music communally would also be a session, I know they have céilidh in Cape Breton, I wonder if they are like the Maine ceili or the UK cèilidh

Wikipedia describes Ceilidh in modern terms as a dance event but says historically it was any shared performance event.

BTW I have deliberately used all the different spellings I could find.

Simon G


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 09:00 PM

The word means "a gathering", so really anything can happen! It does often get taken to mean a dance, but as some of my friends here say, "it isn't a proper ceilidh if there's no singing or floor spots, it's just a dance". I wouldn't think of a session as being a ceilidh, however, unless it included SOME set dancing. (Answer from Scotland).


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,julia
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 09:02 PM

When we were on Skye in Scotland, a Ceilidh was defined as more than two people gathering for stories, song and perhaps "a cup of tea and wee dram".

Here in Maine (and elsewhere in the US) the sessions I have been to are generally in a public place and the focus is instrumental music, also called a "jam". In my experience, a ceilidh tends more to a convivial gathering with food, song, story and dancing added, often in a private home.

If you are in Maine, let me know and we'll have one at oor wee "ceilidh palace"
cheers- Julia


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Simon G
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 09:14 PM

We will get to Maine at some point, probably on the way to my brother's home in Ontario. If we do I might just take you up on the offer.

It is great to see words coming to mean different things in different places. The surprising thing is often the USA retains the original meaning when the UK has moved on, or the orignal spelling - color, etc.

Sessions are also called Jams (as Maine) or Kitchen Parties (is this unique) in Nova Scotia

Simon


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 10:55 PM

Ceilidh is a Gaelic word that is both a noun or a verb meaning "visit". What you do on a visit is the choice of you and your host.
In pioneer days on Cape Breton Island a ceilidh with a more formal structure provided entertainment of music, dancing and song with the neighbours. This has evolved int a sometimes more commercial format today that could be either a dance or concert or jam or any combination. Deeper insight can be found here:

Cape Breton Ceilidh


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 11:47 PM

From what I've read over the years, here, I've always thought of it as a kitchen party, i.e. get together, usually in someone's home, with food, music, stories, dance, if anyone wants, and good company. Out here my folks just called them "get togethers"...that was long before we'd ever heard of "ceilidh." I wish I'd known before they passed so I could ask if my greatgranddad and ggrandma ever mentioned them, being from Nova Scotia themselves.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 02:56 AM

In England, the word ceilidh has come to mean a social dance of a more vigorous type than a barn dance...these are usually associated with the style of dance/music that is based in the 50s square dance revival, or the more stately dances of John Playford or the modern dance masters.
e-ceilidh is a specific"movement"...the e standing for english to distinguish it from Scots pr Irish type ceilidhs.

E ceilidh has its own web presence which someone more techy than I may find a link to.

Playing informally in a pub or a house is a session.

Hope that helps...

Baz


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Mo the caller
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 07:04 AM

I thought we'd discussed it earlier. Here's one thread
and it has links to others.
I think Alistair Anderson was in on the change from BarnDances and Dancers Dances to more energetic Ceilidhs for everyone (in England).

Not that I see anything wrong with labelling a dance as a 'Dancers Dance' if you intend to have a programme of dances that will mystify newcomers.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 08:28 AM

Music, story-telling, poetry, and dance.

If there is no music involved it would be hard to see it as a ceilidh.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 09:47 AM

Actually, the word "session" for a party in mainland Nova Scotia is of very recent origin and tends to be an urban word for what once were known all over the Province as "times". Going out to a "time" was also well known in Cape Breton I believe.One still hears this expression in many rural parts of NS.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Cuilionn
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 10:52 AM

Simon-- just posted a response over on the blog, but of course I should have thought to check the Mudcat first!

My understanding of ceilidhs was formed by my experience in the Hebrides, particularly the islands of South Uist and Eriskay, as well as my experience in the community of Scottish Gaelic learners in the Pacific Northwest.

You observe that "The surprising thing is often the USA retains the original meaning when the UK has moved on..." In my experience, that has certainly seemed to be the case. I remember being rather shocked, on my first visit to my ancestral homeland of Scotland, to see that many of the "trad" performers leaned heavily on the use of electronic keyboards, complete with drum-machine or ambient sound effects. My U.S. Celtic friends are, by necessity, cultural reconstructionists. When we try to put together a "traditional-style" event, we tend to be a bit obsessive about reaching as far back towards our roots as possible, rejecting anything that seems too closely aligned with modern pop culture. I'm not saying we're slavish about it, but rather driven by an intense hunger for some envisioned "real thing" that emerges from the rough edges of our broken ancestral/linguistic/cultural links.


It's true that a traditional house ceilidh bears little resemblance to the various formal or pre-planned events that bear the same title. In the ceilidhs I've attended, there's a just as strong an emphasis on singing and storytelling as there is on instrumental tune-swapping. (There was some fine storytelling at the Ceilidh Palace, but I didn't happen to train my camera on it.) A ceilidh dance is yet another permutation of the concept, and Cape Breton does indeed have some splendid ceilidhs for dancing.

All forms of ceilidhs can be delightful, but it is the organic nature of the traditional house-ceilidh (or at least the traditional house ceilidh as I understand it) that most strongly appeals to me.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Simon G
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 11:40 AM

Cuilionn - Sorry I didn't post both places to double you work to respond. :)

Thanks for an excellent response. Yes organic, nice description for face to face music, poems and stories.

I've not a great reader in the field of sociology but came across the concept of primary and secondary culture. My limited understanding is primary culture is fundamentaly face to face and secondary culture is more remote. So a ceilidh is primary culture and a MTV is secondary. Primary culture is very powerful and we need to foster it as much as possible, especially as it is owned by the people taking part and not susceptible to being usurped by anonymous corporations and governments.

Keep fighting to maintain ceilidh, singround, session, jam, kitchen party, song circle, open mic, etc.

In the UK the purveyors of secondary culture are successfully using the government to make it harder and harder for primary culture. Witness the licensing act which heavily favours recorded music and large audience performances.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Cuilionn
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 01:05 PM

"In the UK the purveyors of secondary culture are successfully using the government to make it harder and harder for primary culture. Witness the licensing act which heavily favours recorded music and large audience performances."

Aye, that's why I like to describe a house ceilidh as "organic" and "free-range" entertainment. I believe there's a strong link between what happens in culture and what happens in agriculture.

Here in Maine, as in many parts of the world, small family farms face incredible pressure from politically-well-connected AgriMegaBusinesses. The AMBs lobby (usually successfully) for laws that favour highly-mechanized, gear-intensive operations. For example, if I keep a small, sustainably-managed flock of chickens and sell someone a farm-butchered bird that has been cleaned and processed carefully in my own well-sanitized kitchen, I can get in trouble for not having an "appropriate processing facility." In order to afford such a facility, I'd have to raise enough chickens to cause serious harm to our farmstead, watershed, and ecosystem. No thank you!

(Rant Over.) Like healthy locally-raised low-tech food, healthy locally-made low-tech entertainment faces daunting opposition just when we need it the most. I'm doing my best to wean myself away from high-tech unsustainable farming methods. I'm doing my best to reclaim sustainable expressions of human culture, too. Why? Because I believe that a "ceilidhing" community is a community that understands itself, at least on some levels, as creative, skilled and resourceful, no matter how many contrary messages they may receive from folks at MegaBigCorp.

I'm fine with ceilis/ceilidhs being many things to many different groups of people--as long as we all understand the radical origins and original meaning(s) of the term: a convivial gathering wherein folks discover--and share--the upwelling creativity within ourselves: a well we can all return to again and again and again.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Simon G
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 04:28 PM

Perhaps I'm moving Cuillionn thoughts a little to far.

Céilidh - a community that sustains itself by sharing --- culture, produce, resources, expertise, energy, stories, experience


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Cuilionn
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 04:46 PM

Oooh, let's start one, shall we?

In Scottish Gaelic, an area where the language is spoken (presumably, with all the accompanying cultural activities and understandings) is called a "Gaidhealtachd." (Pronouned, roughly, "GAY-ul-TAHKT.")

Now, I'm not quite sure I have enough facility with the language to do this, but perhaps we could speak in terms of a "céilidhtachd" as well!


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 09:06 PM

The Scottish Gaelic (and Scots, and English) spelling is "ceilidh", the Irish one is "céili".

"Céilidh" is a three-l lllama.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Cuilionn
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 09:21 PM

Jack- depends on your preferred orthography. Some Scottish Gaelic dictionaries keep the accent, others drop it.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,julia
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 11:48 PM

Wow Cuillion... you make it all sound so profound. I thought we were just having a heckuva party. Nice to know cultural preservation can be so much fun! Those kids had no idea they were being indoctrinated.
heee hee

julia


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 05:18 AM

Basically, it's a Twmpath

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 07:08 AM

> Basically, it's a Twmpath <

which word however also retains its original meaning, as for instance on a road sign "TWMPATHAU" (there meaning speed bumps).

Richard


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 09:22 AM

I get it, Céilidh is another name for a Fais Do Do.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,banjoman
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 10:26 AM

One of our band once described a ceildh as "The most fun you can have without taking all your clothes off"

Says a lot for his love life


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Declan
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 05:09 PM

I think Ceili in irish comes from the same root as 'le Cheile" which means together, so a ceili is a gathering or get together. In parts of the north of ireland ceili-ing used to be used to describe people gathering in certain houses in the area for entertainment which usually involved music, but only if there were some 'musicianers' in the locality. This practice was common all over the country but was known by different names in other areas.

The Irish language revival movement adopted the word ceili to describe a certain style of Irish dancing and get togethers to practice the same, which I think is why the word is usually associated with dancing nowadays.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 13 Jan 10 - 08:52 PM

When I lived in Aberfoyle (West Perthshire) in the late '60s, the local branch of An Comunn Gàidhealach ran monthly events that were distinctly titled as a "Ceilidh and Dance".

The ceilidh part ran from about 8.00pm to 10.00pm in a side-room or foyer of the local hotel and consisted of a small concert-type sequence of songs and music from various performers, usually three songs each, unless there was a Mod medallist (competition winner) in the company, when more might be hoped for. All performers were paid for their efforts, some medallists could command significant fees.

At 10.00pm (end of licencing hours in those days) the audience would magically double from fifty or so to a hundred, and proceedings would move into the adjacent ballroom, where a visiting band (accordion/s, fiddle/s, piano, drums, sometimes banjo) would play for dances for the next couple of hours, always finishing by midnight. Everybody knew all the dances and most took part (the ones that didn't would just be there to have a gossip, appreciate the atmosphere and take advantage of the extended bar-licence in the ballroom).

Found all kinds of "ceilidh"s (and spellings!) since living in England and travelling about the world. I wouldn't worry too much about "what is a ceilidh?" - just enjoy them where you find them.

Ross

Ross


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 10 - 07:20 AM

Two separate meanings here -
One is West Coast dances (see list)
http://brackenrigg.co.uk/dance_list.html
with the dances not being too formal, suitable for beginners, few dances having set tunes and at a bit more boisterous pace (a la Fergie MacDonald)


as opposed to Scottish Country Dancing on the East Coast with formal dances, experienced dancers, set tunes, set tempi (a la Shand)


Second meaning is a get-together for singing, poetry, recitation, music, anything else, with lots of dancing thrown in.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Mr Red
Date: 21 Jan 10 - 01:05 PM

What is a ceili?
Fleadh?
Twmpath?
How long have you got?

AND

dare we mention the concept of EC? English Ceilidh since you ask. Yes there are differences - the last Scottish Ceilidh I went to was in Cheltenham Town Hall and they brought a band down from Aberdeen and a few Aberdonians with them.

While all the English Ceilidhnauts were spinning and twisting while the action worked it's way up to them the "Scoooortish Country Dancers" were tutting and rollong their eys, muttering "Ney Ney, ye stand yerselfs still, ye ken?" Oh no we don't Mac!

And where were the hornpipes? Or Northern Rants? And why oh why oh why did they call a Waltz and play a Schottische? Yea yea understandable, but it took half the dance for us to stop being so obliging and just do a Schottische.

The band played like Jimmy Shand would have played.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Mr Red
Date: 29 Jan 10 - 09:27 AM

I just bought a book in Cheltenham library on sale at 20p. Called "Let's have a Ceilidh".

ISBN 0-86241-412-1 href=http://www.meetatthegate.com/>cannongate press (out of print).


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Hamish
Date: 29 Jan 10 - 09:37 AM

Just finshed reading Neil Gunn's novel "The Silver Darlings" about the early days of the herring fishing in the north of Scotland. Set in the early 1800s and written in 1951 (iirc), there are lots of scenes set in "ceilidh houses". They are, as earlier posts suggest, just meeting houses. Often just for catching up with news, but generally extending into story telling, recitations, singing and sometimes dancing.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,Willie
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 04:21 AM

One definition of ceilidh that I like is a 'distillery set to music' !

You can download some ceilidh music from this site:
Ceilidh Band mp3s


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,Willie
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 04:23 AM

Sorry, that link was meant to be
ceilidh band mp3s


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:09 AM

I onc read a definition in a Dictionary " an evening of social intercourse".
That was in the days when one spoke "correct" English !!!!


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Howard Jones
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:20 AM

Nice stuff. But that's Scottish ceilidh music, and whilst the Scots will no doubt argue that's the proper meaning, as this thread has discussed the word has taken on other meanings in its travels. South of the Border "ceilidh" has more to do with a style of dance and an attitude to dancing and music, rather than a specific repertoire or style of playing. In England, "ceilidh music" might mean this:

Albireo

or this:

Time Bandits

or this:

Token Women

or this:

Tiger Moth

or a host of other types of music and styles of playing.

Across the Atlantic, where the word seems to have taken on yet another meaning, no doubt the music associated with it is different again.

You can only know what "ceilidh" means by understanding the context in which it is being used. This can be confusing!


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,Baz Parkes
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:30 AM

Howard...what did we do to upset you so we get left out??

Baz

Insert innumerable numbers of "smileys" here please:-)


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:51 AM

Didn't know the links obviously allblackedup.co.uk/ & myspace & AGP studios & Webfeet schpiel

One day this will post!


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: GUEST,Mr Red - keeping trying till it posts
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:56 AM

Alistair is obviously doing something on his website that foos search engines.


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: Howard Jones
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 07:30 AM

Sorry Baz, I got bored with making clickies before I got to you :)


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Subject: RE: What is a Céilidh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 07:03 AM

Baz - thanks for explaining above what e-ceilidh means ~~ I had been wondering how it worked, assuming it meant electronic-ceilidh [as in e-mail!]; which had raised an interesting mental image of people sitting before their desktops & laptops, all singing and dancing together via Skype ~~~


~~~ which might be an idea, come to think of it... Think I'd have any future in patenting it?


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