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The Siege of Ennis and the Walls of Limerick are not set dances, but step dances. The Stack of Barley is nether set nor step, but a two-handed dance. -- Anonymous

Well, please change the article to include that information. Thanks. -- Derek Ross | Talk

The article makes no reference to English Ceilidh, which is quite a thriving form of Ceilidh with it's own unique features that set it a little apart from it's Scottish, and Irish relatives.

English Ceilidhs

English Ceilidhs, are again based on Traditional Set Dances (a lot of which are English, as well Scottish, and Irish) and resonantly written set dances (over the last 30 years) aimed at Ceilidh audiences. One of the main features of English Ceilidh is the use of a caller. The caller walks the dance though (teaches the dance very quickly) with all the dances before it starts, then calls the moves out as the dance goes on. The idea behind this is than someone can come along to an English Ceilidh with no-experience and join in. Most English Ceilidh's also tend to have spots in the evening for performances (normally these are some form of folk art, usually morris dancing). Bands for English ceilidhs tend to be reasonable varied in terms of style and instruments (although tradition folk instruments such as fiddles, flute, Malodens tend to dominate the melody side of things).

The English ceilidh scene is made up of a number of regular clubs that put on ceilidh's at regular intervals, a number of add-hoc ceilidh's, and finally the summer folk festivals that normally have ceilidh's every night of the festival (the largest of these in England being the Sidmouth Festival).

Set Types

In English ceilidhs the most common set type is the longways set, this is where all the men stand in one line whilst all the women stand in another, and each person is opposite their partner. Set formation where one couple face another in the form of square, circle, or oblong are also regularly used. The occasion dance also has it's own unique formation, however these dances are not as commonly used as it take a while for the caller to get people in the correct set shapes. -- Anonymous

Good to know that ceilidhs are flourishing in England. Going by your description they appear to be practically identical in form to ceilidhs in Scotland and Ireland though. The differences that you do mention are no more different than you would find between ceilidhs in different parts of Scotland. Callers certainly aren't unique to ceilidhs in England, although they are probably more frequently used there. Most ceilidh bands will call or walk through a dance if it's not well known. -- Derek Ross | Talk 16:39, 2005 Jan 10 (UTC)

I've deleted the sentence "The equivalent of a céilí in Brittany is called a fest-noz.", since it seems to be redundant given the link to the European Folk Dances category. I've also put in some content relating to English ceilidhs and linked this article to the category English Folk Dances. --Motmot 11:08, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Would it be improper for Wikipedia to provide an article on choreographies that are considered "traditional," and therefore should be in the public domain? (Also, Wikipedia could provide those choreographies for which permission is given for them to be distributed in this fashion.) There are at least two difficulties that I can imagine. First, there is no "standard" fashion for specifying choreographies, including the names of the figures. Second, some dances are done slightly differently in different locations. The latter could be managed by noting location-specific versions. Perhaps the former could be handled by borrowing from Irish Step Dancing, and others more familiar with such material could comment? BobC 09:15, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

Based on a suggestion made in the Contra dance discussion article, it seems a Wikibook is in order. If others are interested in such a project, please send email to this Wikipedia user account.--SFBADanceDude 04:43, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Hmm...There are probably lots of variations on how certain dances are done; it may take a whole other article, in fact. The one I can speak definitively on is a version of "The Stack of Barley" that my family does for special occasions, passed down from my great-grandparents (b. Tourmakeady, Co. Mayo.) It is done usually after they play "Siege of Ennis" with a partner kind of in a barrel embrace, and each number is like a mini trot:

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-hop! (Repeat about 5 times) 1-2-3 hop! (Repeat until next set starts)

The music may or may not speed up, so have a care not to crash into anyone else if you're a beginner.

Gremlin UK

I've just deleted a whole load of information lifted directly from's website, and added an external link pointing to it. This is because is copyrighted by Gremlin UK Ltd. --Motmot

The meaning of Ceilidh[edit]

We know that these days a Ceilidh refers to an evening of social dancing. However, I distinctly remember my (Scottish) Gaelic teacher going on at great length at how the word Ceilidh had been hijacked, and for her generation (I would guess she was born between 1930 and 1940) it actually meant a social gathering of any sort. Having a few friends round for a dram, getting together to play some music, and so on.

So although this meaning certainly encompassed the 'evening of social dancing' ceilidh, it could also refer to other types of get-together.

If I am not mistaken, I have heard this argument advanced by other sources, but I dont have any referances to hand.

Has anybody else heard of this? If so, should we include it in the article? --Fergie 10:37, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Yes, of course other people have heard of it. That's a proper ceilidh. Your teacher was exactly right. In principle a ceilidh doesn't have to have any dancing at all. I thought that that was already in the article. -- Derek Ross | Talk 15:04, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
Do you mean that this is common knowledge? If so I do not share your confidence. Also- this definition is not in the article as it stands. I would be interested to hear what speakers of Irish Gaelic think of when they use the word Ceilidh.--Fergie 10:23, 12 August 2005 (UTC)
It's common knowledge in the Gaeltachd. It's less commonly known in the rest of Scotland. I wouldn't say that it was common knowledge outside of Scotland and probably Ireland. -- Derek Ross | Talk 21:42, 12 August 2005 (UTC)

Its known about here in Nova Scotia but that might just be because of the close ties to Ireland and Scotland that Maritimes have.

This article seems highly prescriptive as to what a céilidh is and with no in-text citations to back up what seem to me some questionable or at least overly specific assertions.
Much of what is written may well be the conception of a céilidh held by many - maybe even most - people, particularly in recent years and outside of the Gàidhealtachd/Gaeltacht and therefore have a rightful place in the article (with citations). However the article gives too much emphasis to this aspect without the balance of céilidh’s wider and less formalised meaning as mentioned in the discussion above. Certainly historically this is the more accurate meaning of the term so, at the very least, an expansion on this aspect would provide some balance. All of the references and most of the external links regard dance, which need not even be part of a céilidh.
It’s not just historically that the broader definition is used though. Personally, I’ve heard the term used in modern times in the Highlands (Skye and Argyll specifically come to mind) in reference to, e.g., a small, informal social gathering in someone’s house, where possibly someone may sing, someone may play an instrument, there may be some storytelling and there may (or may equally not) be dancing involved.
The article would also benefit from some copy-editing from someone knowledgeable on the subject. For example “Modern céilidh dancing is a … the groups of people who originally devised them”. I can guess what is meant (although, incidentally, have doubts about the factual accuracy) but this make it sound like these forms of dance were constructed by committees. Does it possibly mean other people who practice these forms of dance? Mutt Lunker 23:45, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Some years ago my mother was invited to a céilí at a neighbour's house when she was on holiday in the Donegal Gaeltacht. Expecting an evening of dancing, she was quite surprised to discover, as the night went on, that the céilí turned out to be a get-together for a few drinks, some food and a bit of chat and crack! Obviously this meaning is still preserved; however if a Céilí Mór is advertised, you can take it for granted that it's a dance. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Conanmcd (talkcontribs) 19:29, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

"Cèilidh" actually means "visit". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:00, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

English Ceilidh[edit]

It is this sense of the word that English ceilidhs borrowed, they wanted to describe an event involving dancing that was like a party and not like the some what stuffy EFDSS dances. Hence the spot's during the ceilidhs.

I have a few usful links for the artical. Contains alot of the dances commonly done at english ceilidhs.

and also as an example of a very active ceilidh serises to help show what english ceilidhs are all about.

"Progressive dances (where you change partners) are rare" I would disagree - at the ceilidhs I got to (generally at festivals) its normal to have a few dances where you change partners each night.

Well, in my experience you might get one or two a ceilidh, where ten or twelve dances are called.
I agree with putting Sheffield Ceilidh Soc in, but I think the caller's list is rather specialist. I don't want to overload the links section.Motmot 14:44, 22 May 2006 (UTC)


It would be so helpful if people who splat cleanup notices on the articles would take the trouble to point out exactly what needs to be cleaned up.

I am no expert on the subject, but I find the article well written enough as it is, so I am removing the cleanup notice.-- 19:11, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

Alternate spelling[edit]

What about the following spelling?: ceilidth
I've seen it used (and use it myself) cheers! If you have seen it used it is by stupid ignorami with no knowledge of Gaelic!

Well good for you. There are a few variations depending upon whether you use the traditional or one of the reformed spelling systems. But that's not one of them. -- Derek Ross | Talk 02:25, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
The reformed Scots Gaelic spelling is '? I doubt it somewhat. Donnacha 13:27, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
I have only ever seen it spelt Céilí 03:07, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
...which tells us that you are (a) Irish and (b) young. Doesn't tell us much about ceilidh though. -- Derek Ross | Talk 05:05, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps the original poster has seen the spelling "Céilíthe", which is the plural of Céilí in Irish.
The plural of 'cèilidh' in Gàidhlig na h-Alba (reformed) is 'cèilidhean'; so you've not got it from Gàidhlig! May I suggest you start to use a correct spelling from now on? I know it might sound picky, but that's how languages become diluted...mòran taing! Daibhidh Sco | Talk 02:25, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
In this article, we need to use the most common spelling in English. I'm not 100% positive that's "céilidh", but I'm pretty sure it isn't "cèilidh". —Angr 16:39, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Stickj to subjects you know about and don't pontificate on those you are ignorant of. The Scottish spelling is "cèilidh" and the (modern) Irish "céili". It is not an English word so there is no English spelling.

Yeah, sorry OP. But that's not an alternate spelling; it's just wrong.Jamesnp (talk) 14:05, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Australian Céilidh[edit]

I grew up in Australia in the 70's and 80's. We had similar Céilidhs. I haven't heard of them for a long time. They were great fun and like their Scottish equivalent were a wonderful place to socialise. Ozdaren 06:21, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

Glad you enjoyed them; they are a lot of fun. You'll find them wherever there were a lot of Irish or Scottish settlers. -- Derek Ross | Talk 05:07, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

External Links and Band Advertising[edit]

Suggest that 'advertising links' to bands sites are kept for a defined amount of time, maybe a month, and then removed.

Ideally bands would get their sites included in the various directories (such as ODP) and the Wiki page just reference these. However can be that it takes time to get listed in the directories and picked up by the search engines, so allow the link to remain for a while to help the new site be found.

Alternatively, set up a separate page to hold a list of bands... 20:34, 31 October 2006 (UTC) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by User: (talkcontribs) .

But none of those things is Wikipedia policy. Wikipedia is not a place to advertise, is is an ad-free encyclopedia. Bands should only be listed if they meet the notability criteria, and linked to if they are a non-commercial site that somehow adds content to the Wikipedia article. If you are listing small bands with no notable recordings, this doesn not meet notability requirements. It looks to me what you are doing is linkspam. Please familiarize yourself with these Wikipedia policies before continuing to add links to articles. --Kathryn NicDhàna 23:01, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

My apologies, I can see this is a hot topic and what I was suggesting was near heresy. I withdraw the suggestion.

On the other hand I think referring to the Open Directory Project listings of bands could still be useful and not contrary to the spirit. For example, from external links, I get 'A link to a web directory category may be deemed appropriate by those contributing to an article. Preference should be give to open directories' and as a practical measure, it might help to be able to refer people (who want to add links) to the ODP directory.

Having made the original change [[1]] and had it rolled out, I'll leave it to someone else to put back if they think it is notable. 08:26, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Céilidh in the past[edit]

I found some interesting references of "ceilidh" in books from the beginning of the 20th century. I've always been told that "céilidh" has its equivalent in Brittany with "fest noz", but it is true only in its modern meaning. It was quite different in the past, apparently the céilidh has evolved. There is no historical section in the article, and I'm not a specialist, so I just give you those quotations:

The 'ceilidh' is a literary entertainment where stories and tales, poems and ballads, are rehearsed and recited, and songs are sung, conundrums are put, proverbs are quoted, and many other literary matters are related and discussed.

Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica, 1900, tome I, p. xxviii.

The ceilidh of the Western Hebrides corresponds to the veillée of Lower Brittany […], and to similar story-telling festivals which formerly flourished among all the Celtic peoples.

W. Y. Evans Wentz, The Fairy-faith in Celtic countries, Oxford University Press, 1911, p.32.

Gwalarn (talk) 13:02, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Sounds like good material for a "History of Ceilidh" section. I must admit that I only know it in its modern form but it's interesting to discover that it hasn't always been that way. -- Derek Ross | Talk 23:55, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

Big National Ceilidh[edit]

May I draw readers' attention to the Big National Ceilidh held on 18th October 2008. This was an event across the British Isles and beyond, raising money for the charity "Wateraid". This originated at The Sage, Gateshead from David and Joey Oliver. The idea was to hold ceilidhs and at 10 p,m have as many people up and dancing Circassian Circle to the tune of Jimmy (or Jamie) Allen. More than eighty individual events were held at venues ranging in size from The Octogon, Sheffield to lowly village halls. In all several thousand people were expected to be dancing at the aforementioned time. In Torpenhow near Cockermouth, Cumbria, Belfagan Womens Morris and Village Green Ceilidh Band held an event with songs, a morris demonstration and a "pie and pea supper". Real ale was served from the nearby Hesket Newmarket brewery. See the website for more. -- (talk) 17:01, 19 October 2008 (UTC)


I'm surprised there is no mention of Ceilidhs in Wales. I am not an expert, and I can't speak for south Wales, but here in north Wales the terms is in frequent use for dances which seem to be similar to the English ones described, but I suspect with more music of Celtic origin. Unfortunately I can't say enough with certainty to change the main text. Apalomita (talk) 13:40, 2 May 2010 (UTC)


Since the word is nowadays spelt céilidh in neither Irish nor Scottish Gaelic, is there any justification for using italics in the intro here (or indeed for employing an "é")? "Ceilidh" / "céilidh" (thus spelt) is today an English-language word -- just as much as, say, "connoisseur" (Modern French: connaisseur). -- Picapica (talk) 18:07, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

It should be either "cèilidh" or "céili", "céilidh" is just ignorant and wrong.

alternative music[edit]

The article mentions that ceilidh dances are often interspersed with disco-type dances. But I have often been at ceilidhs (in Scotland) where some of ceilidh dances are themselves danced to unconventional tunes. (example - the Military twostep to Cotton Eyed Joe, also electronic music, even Christian songs) Is this common? (well, probably not the last example!) (talk) 21:00, 4 December 2013 (UTC)