THE YELLOW-HAIRED GOAT
or An Gabharín Buí

Dan Furey, Co. Clare, Ireland
collected and filmed by Chris Brady, July 1991/2

The "Yellow Haired Goat" or "An Gabharín Buí" is an Irish traditional crossed-stick dance. It used to be known throughout County Clare. It is referenced in Breandán Breathnach's definitive book 'Folk Music and Dances of Ireland.' In the 1990s Dan Furey was the last one who knew it, and he taught it to his neighbours Emer and Ciara McCarthy of Lakyle, Co. Clare.

This is a clip from a short film (on Google) of Irish traditional step dancing in the old style as taught by James Keane and Dan Furey at the Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay in 1991.

This style largely unknown outside of rural Ireland has now all but disappeared. It bears little resemblance to modern competitive Irish step dance as performed by ubiquitous little girls in highly embroidered dresses and curly wigs and boys in flimsy 'kilts,' and even less to the likes of the purely theatrical River Dance or Lord of the Dance. The old style was effortless, elegant, low to the ground, and relied on heel and toe beats to make gentle clicking sounds in time to and across the rythm of the music to demonstrate the expertise of the dancer.

Both James (Keane) and Dan (Furey) who lived beside the Shannon in West Clare - and who have now both sadly passed away - were adept at this style. Both James's father and grandfather were traditional step dancers. They taught both boys. There was also a travelling dancing master by the name of Barron who also held classes in the area. Once widespread throughout Ireland (and also incidently throughout Scotland), but largely unknown outside of today's Ireland, this old elegant style has now largely died out.

It is however being kept alive by some past students of James and Dan, including Michael and Celine Tubridy who have published many of James' and Dan's dances in a book (with CD): A Selection of Irish Step Dances / A Selection of Irish Step Dances and DVD: Irish Traditional Step Dances

But unpublished is the crossed-stick dance, the "Yellow Haired Goat" or "An Gabharín Buí". This dance is unique in Irish traditional step dancing. It is a little like a crossed-brush (broom) dance or the English bacca-pipes. It was well known in County Clare 100 years ago. Dan was the last known traditional performer and teacher of this dance. Indeed he carried the sticks around in the boot of his old Morris Minor for many years so that he could perform it at a moment's notice. In the late 1980s he taught the dance to Emer and Ciara McCarthy, then two local school girls - actually identical twins - who lived in Lakyle, near Dan's cottage. With their kind permission they allowed this film to be made - it is the ony record known of this once popular dance. In the film Dan plays for the girls to dance.

The notation for the "Yellow Haired Goat" may be found below. Note that the chorus step of the old jig "Single Time" is also used for the 'rest' step in the "Yellow Haired Goat."

Click to download or play in Windows Media Player
Yellow Haired Goat
(WMV # 2.57 mins # 7.49 Mb)

The Sticks

Dan used two battons nailed in the form of a cross. Each is about 1½" wide, 3/8" thick and 3' long. They are represented by the dashed lines in the diagram below.

AUDIENCE
sticks.gif (12421 bytes)

N, S, W, E are compass directions,
A, B, C, D are quadrant labels.

The Dance

Figure 1:
1. Rotate clockwise, using the pattern of steps described below, to go ¾ round the sticks, starting with feet together at A facing N, and finishing with feet together at B facing W (8 bars)
2. Repeat this pattern starting with feet together at B facing W, and finishing with feet together at C facing S (8 bars)
3. Repeat this pattern starting with feet together at C facing S, and finishing with feet together at D facing E (8 bars)
4. Repeat this pattern starting with feet together at D facing E, and finishing with feet together at A facing N (8 bars)
Chorus:
With feet together at A facing N, perform one jig step (8 bars)
Figure 2:
Rotate clockwise as in Figure 1 but with a different pattern of stepping into the quadrants (32 bars)
Chorus:
With feet together at A facing N, perform one jig step (8 bars)
Figure 3:
1. Rotate clockwise using the same pattern of steps as in Figure 1, but extended to go round the sticks 1¾ times, start with feet together at A facing N, and finishing with feet together at B facing W (16 bars)
2. Repeat this pattern starting with feet together at B facing W, and finishing with feet together at C facing S (16 bars)
3. Repeat this pattern starting with feet together at C facing S, and finishing with feet together at D facing E (16 bars)
4. Repeat this pattern starting with feet together at D facing E, and finishing with feet together at A facing N (16 bars)
Chorus:
With feet together at A facing N, perform one jig step (8 bars)

Patterns of Stepping around Quadrants:
starting from A and finishing at B.
Unless otherwise indicated 'A' below means step lightly
onto ball of left or right foot in quadrant A, etc., ...
 Timing      Figure 1             Figure 2             Figure 3     
           Left | Right         Left | Right         Left | Right   
----------------+--------------------+--------------------+-------  
   1      Hop A |              Hop A |              Hop A |         
  and           |  D                 |  C                 |  D      
   2         A  |                 A  |                 A  |         
                |                    |                    |         
   3            |  B                 |  A                 |  B      
  and        C  |                 B  |                 C  |         
   4            |  B                 |  A                 |  B      
                |                    |                    |         
   1         D  |                 D  |                 D  |         
  and           |  C                 |  B                 |  C      
   2         D  |                 D  |                 D  |         
                |                    |                    |         
   3            |  A                 |  D                 |  A      
  and        B  |                 A  |                 B  |         
   4            |  A                 |  D                 |  A      
                |                    |                    |         
   1         C  |                 C  |                 C  |         
  and           |  B                 |  A                 |  B      
   2         C  |                 C  |                 C  |         
                |                    |                    |         
   3            |  D                 |  C                 |  D      
  and        A  |                 D  |                 A  |         
   4            |  D                 |  C                 |  D      
                |                    |                    |         
   1         B  |                 B  |                 B  |         
  and           |  A                 |  D                 |  A      
   2         B  |                 B  |                 B  |         
                |                    |                    |         
   3            |  B                 |  B                 |  C      
  and        B  |                 B  |                 D  |         
   4            |  B                 |  B                 |  C      
(8 bars)=================    ==================           |         
   1    Repeat from B to C   Repeat from B to C        A  |         
  and   ==================   ==================           |  D      
   2    Repeat from C to D   Repeat from C to D        A  |         
        ==================   ==================           |         
   3    Repeat from D to A   Repeat from D to A           |  B      
  and   ==================   ==================        C  |         
   4    Chorus jig step in   Chorus jig step in           |  B      
           A facing N.          A facing N.               |         
   1    ==================   ==================        D  |         
  and                                                     |  C      
   2                                                   D  |         
                                                          |         
   3                                                      |  A      
  and                                                  B  |         
   4                                                      |  A      
                                                          |         
   1                                                   C  |         
  and                                                     |  B      
   2                                                   C  |         
                                                          |         
   3                                                      |  D      
  and                                                  A  |         
   4                                                      |  D      
                                                          |         
   1                                                   B  |         
  and                                                     |  A      
   2                                                   B  |         
                                                          |         
   3                                                      |  B      
  and                                                  B  |         
   4                                                      |  B      
(8 bars)                                          ==================
                                                  Repeat from B to C
                                                  ==================
                                                  Repeat from C to D
                                                  ==================
                                                  Repeat from D to A
                                                  ==================
                                                  Chorus jig step in
                                                     A facing N.    
                                                  ==================
               

Chorus Jig Step
(from 'Single Time')
    Timing        Left    |  Right     Modifier                   
   -----------------------+------------------------------------   
                          |                                       
       1           hop    |            - swing R ft. across L     
                          |                                       
       2           hop    |            - swing R ft. str. back    
                          |                                       
       3           hop    |            - swing R ft. across L     
      and                 | heel       - slightly fwds            
       4           step   |                                       
                          |                                       
       1           hop    |            ) hold R ft. fwds          
      and          hop    |            ) & down                   
       2                  | step       - behind L                 
      and          ball   |            - across R                 
       3                  | step       - behind L                 
      and          heel   |            - out to L                 
       4                  | step                                  
                          |                                       
       1                  | hop        - swing L ft. across R     
                          |                                       
       2                  | hop        - swing L ft. str. back    
                          |                                       
       3                  | hop        - swing L ft. across R     
      and          heel   |            - slightly fwds            
       4                  | step                                  
                          |                                       
       1                  | hop        ) hold L ft. fwds          
      and                 | hop        ) & down                   
       2           step   |            - behind R                 
      and                 | ball       - across L                 
       3           step   |            - behind R                 
      and                 | heel       - out to R                 
       4           step   |                                       
    (8 bars)              |                                       
    ===========================================================   
               

The Tune

Yellow Haired Goat.

Top

Email: Chris Brady
No. of visitors since 20-10-99: [ 18 ]
Site last modified: April 29, 2010
© Chris Brady

Top

Fwds=>