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Irish Set Dancing

Updated on January 19, 2014

Traditional Dance is a Family Affair

Traditional Irish music and dance is pre-Christian, and it's still with us today

For most people, the image of Irish Dance is Step Dance, the performance dance made popular by Riverdance, but Set Dance is the style I grew up with, joining my parents and neighbours in the old church hall on Friday nights.

At one such a dance, when I was fifteen, I met my future husband,

The Irish Traditions

The Irish carried their cultural traditions across the world during the Diaspora. Their dance was a major influence in the North American traditional percussive dance forms of buck dancing, flatfooting and tap.

My parents took me along to Square Dances too, it was a breeze to pick up after years of Set Dancing. A lot of set dances were 'called' too.

Set Dancing Family Style

I spent a lot of my childhood in church halls dancing just like this,with my parents and neighbours.. Watching these dancers makes me reach for the tissues..

A Set as I remember them

Set dancers in Killarney,County Kerry.

One evening in Melbourne, Australia, I danced in a set with a charming red-haired boy. He was a superb dancer and I fell in love with him.

I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been if that boy couldn't dance.

Demonstration of Set Dance

It's not as easy at it looks! Edwina Guckian and Michael O' Rourke show us a few basic set steps

How about you?

Did you go dancing with your parents?

See results

All comments are appreciated. You don't have to be a Squidoo member to post yours

Dance a set in my guestbook

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    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 

      6 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Well done. I'm all left feet, but would like to give this a try.

    • xposedbydesign profile image


      7 years ago

      Great music.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful dancing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I LOVE fiddling for Irish Set Dancing! It's alive & well in Milwaukee, WI. There's an annual Set Dancing workshop weekend held in Milwaukee every February.

      Check out:

    • Tyla MacAllister profile image

      Tyla MacAllister 

      7 years ago

      I am not much of a dancer but my family and I love to see the young Irish and Scottish dancers at our regional Celtic festivals.

      *Lucky Leprechaun blessings for this lens. Happy St. Patrick's Day.*

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      I learned Irish set dancing in Baltimore, Maryland, US, and my Scottish dancing in Alice Springs, NT.

      I love them both.


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