IRISH 19'th Century Dance

Kate Hughes' "Dancing Book,"
Dundalk, 1867

Arch. Thomson - Dancing Master


All notes are by the late Professor Tom Flett, whose wife Mrs. Joan Flett, kindly gave me full access to her husband’s extensive interpretative notes on the manuscript. These notes compare many of the dances in the manuscript with contemporary published sources. Additional notes in italics are by Chris Brady.
Frank Maginnis, Joan Flett, Chris Brady - 2002

Preface # Introduction # List of Dances

Grand March # Reels # Quadrilles # Country Dances # Circle Dances

(click on theclick hereimage to see the scanned pages)

79. Reel of Eight (scan click here)

Stand for this dance as for a quadrille.
1 All join hands pass half round to left and back to right 8
2 Double hands across and pass half round and back to places 8
All set and turn partners 8
4 All rights and lefts or Grand Chain 8

Reel of Eight - Notes:

This is a simplified version of the Scottish Eightsome Reel or the Northumberland Eightsome Reel. Indeed this is not a true reel in that it does not involve the pattern 'distinctive figure, followed by stepping, followed by distinctive figure, stepping, etc.'. True reels are The Hullachan Reel, The Hullachan Roundabout, Dorset Four Hand Reel, Hampshire Five Hand Reel, Westmoreland Three Reel, Westmoreland Five Hand Reel and various Highland Reels the latter beloved of Queen Victoria

80. The Hullachan (scan click here)

Stand as for the reel of four
1 All set and reel figure eight 16
2 The two gents facing each other 8
3 All go round after each other in a circle ladies take the centre and set to partners 16
4 Th(e)y reel as before 8
5 Gents take to the centre and set to reverse partners 8
6 Circle as before 8
7 The two gents set and turn same with right arms locked 8
8 Again set and turn with arms locked 8
9 They reel as before 8
10 The ladies take to the centre set and turn with right arms and then with left arms locked
11 They circle as before 8
Gents take the centre set and turn the ladies and finish 8

The Hullachan Reel - Notes:

This is a true reel in that there is a pattern of figure, stepping, figure, stepping, etc. The term 'reel' is also used synonymously with an English 'hey' meaning a weaving dance or figure where the dancers pass each other by in a figure eight type movement interspersed with stepping or dancing on the spot.


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