The South Galway Set is a set dance that hails from the Gort area of Galway, Republic of Ireland. It can be viewed on Volume 2 of the video series The Magic of Irish Set Dancing with instruction by the late Connie Ryan. Other published instructions include Terry Moylan's Irish Dances, Pat Murphy's Toss the Feathers and Tom Quinn's Irish Dancing. Joe O'Hara has two online versions of this set: a 4-couple workshop version and a traditional half set version.
The following instructions for the South Galway Set dance can also be found on the Newcastle Irish Set Dancers' website along with instructions for many more Irish Set Dances. They were copied here by the author of that page, Arthur Kingsland. Instructions for the Clare Lancers Set can also be found on Wikipedia.
Square Set of four couples, Gents on the left of their partners. 1st Top Couple have their backs to the band, with 2nd Top Couple opposite them. 1st Side Couple are on the left of 1st Top Couple (when facing into the set) and 2nd Side Couple are opposite them (to the right of 1st Tops). All Couples dance all parts of each figure, except where described otherwise in Figure 4 (Tops on their own followed by Sides on their own).
Top Couples face Side Couple on your left – Pass Opposite (right shoulder to right / Ladies passing left shoulders in the middle) [2 bars] + Face Partner and change places (left shoulder to left / Lady turns anticlockwise into place / Gent turns clockwise) + Face across [2 bars] and pass Opposite (right shoulders) + Change places with Partner (left shoulders)
Waltz hold – Swing Partner
House around + Face the same Couple – Pass through and back + Swing
Top Couples face Side Couple on your left – Open waltz hold – Advance and retire [4 bars] + Pass Opposite (right shoulders – Ladies in the middle) + Change places with Partner (left shoulders) [4 bars] + Repeat back to place (Advance and retire + Pass through)
Waltz hold – Swing Partner
House around + Face the same Couple – Advance and retire + Pass through + Advance and retire + Pass back + Swing
Top Couples face Side Couple on your left – Open waltz hold – Advance and retire + Ladies change places passing right shoulder to right while Gents turn once in place clockwise (pulling right shoulder back) + House around with new Partner
Advance, Retire + Ladies cross + House
Advance and retire + Ladies change places while Gents turn clockwise in place + House around with original Partner
Swing + House
Swing + House around with Partner
Advance and retire + Ladies cross + House around with new Partner + Advance and retire + Ladies cross + House around with original Partner
All form a basket – Place left arm over the right of the person next to you and grasp the wrist of the next person with your left, Place right foot into the middle and circle left
All Advance and Retire movements, for both the jigs and the reels, are danced Forward 1 February 123 Back 1 February 123.
For Ladies starting on the right foot (t = toe): R L Rt-Lt-Rt / L R Lt-Rt-Lt
For Gents starting on the left foot: L R Lt-Rt-Lt / R L Rt-Lt-Rt
Joe O'Hara notes that the set is danced quite flat, with some lift to the step – though not as much as in the Clare style – and little or no battering. The jig is danced with the rising (or up) jig step.