Irish set dancing at Sidmouth Folk Festival

PUBLISHED: 15:39 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:42 06 August 2019

Mother and daughter Julie and Charlotte Oxberry at the Irish set dancing workshop. Picture: Maria McCarthy

Mother and daughter Julie and Charlotte Oxberry at the Irish set dancing workshop. Picture: Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy

Irish set dancing is popular all over Ireland and in many parts of the world including the UK, Europe, the USA and even Japan.

Irish set dancers at Maggie Daniel's workshop. Picture: Maria McCarthyIrish set dancers at Maggie Daniel's workshop. Picture: Maria McCarthy

There is a thriving scene in Devon, and Maggie Daniel, who teaches set dancing in Newton Abbot and Colyford, was delighted to be leading a series of workshops at Sidmouth Folk Festival.

"I've been attending Irish set dancing workshops at Sidmouth since 1997 and I hope to introduce some new fans to it this year," said Maggie.

"These workshops are open to both beginner and experienced dancers, and anyone can join without having attended the previous ones.

"I always try to encourage beginners and make my workshops welcoming to all. As well as being tremendous fun, Irish set dancing is a great way of meeting people and making friends. I can honestly say that Irish set dancing has changed my life."

In Irish set dancing four couples dance together in a square set to traditional Irish music. There are various rhythms such as jigs, reels, or hornpipes. Most of the dances are named after towns, villages or areas in Ireland such as the Connemara Set, Clare Lancers or the Ballyvourney Jig set.

The Saturday workshop began the series with Maggie demonstrating basic set dancing steps that are used in hornpipes and reels, and moves that could then be put together to make up a dance or set. Maggie was accompanied by The Perfect Cure, a lively and talented folk band from Bristol.

The participants went on to dance extracts from the Plain and Caledonian sets from County Clare and the Jenny Lind from County Cork.

Mother and daughter Julie and Charlotte Oxberry from Newcastle-under-Lyme thoroughly enjoyed the workshop.

"We both love Irish music but we've never tried Irish set dancing before,' said Julie. "This was a great introduction. The workshop leader explained everything so clearly and the other dancers in our set were very friendly and helpful."

Maggie and her husband Mike run the Devon Irish Set Dancers group which always welcomes new members. For more information contact or check out their Facebook group.


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