Hamilton Irish Arts

Hamilton Irish Arts was established in 2008 to bring back back the Irish culture to Hamilton. We began by becoming a branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and have adopted the principles of promoting the traditional music, dance and language of Ireland.

Please check the Events page for upcoming Hamilton Irish Arts events.

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Ceilidhs

Hamilton Irish Arts is striving to bring back the fun! Ceilidh dancing is the traditional group dancing of Ireland and is danced to traditional Irish music. Most ceilidh dances are danced to reels, jigs or hornpipes.

Ceilidh dances can have various formations including two couples, three couples, four couples, six couples or even eight couples. Lines of two opposite two, three opposite three or four opposite four or each line would progress to meet a new line of dancers and repeat the same movements with them. Some dances are performed by a line of men facing a line of women while others are performed by any number of couples in a circle.

The dances are called out and helpful hints are given almost always. You will make mistakes and feel out of sorts but keep at it and you are guaranteed a great time.

You don’t need to bring a partner: there are loads of people in the same boat as you.

Sessions

Sessions are interesting phenomena. They are the best example of what Irish music is about (if it’s “about” anything at all.) It’s an intangible thing that has to be experienced to be understood.

The session is the life–blood of traditional music, and with the session goes the associated notion of “craic”.

At first sight sessions may seem to be rambling, disorganized affairs, but they have an underlying order and etiquette. Musicians generally commandeer a corner of the pub which is then sacred to them. They also reserve the right to invite selected nonplaying friends to join them there. The session is not open to all comers, although it might look that way, and it’s not done simply to join in with no form of introduction. More than one session has been abruptly terminated in full flight by the insensitive or inebriated ignoramus insisting on singing “Danny Boy” or banging away inexpertly on the bodhr´n (Irish frame drum) in the mistaken belief that his or her attentions are welcome. The newcomer will wait to be asked to play, and may well refuse if they consider the other musicians to be of a lower standard than themselves.

The basic rules of session etiquette are:

  1. Don’t join in without asking, or without being invited to play (if you’re at an unfamiliar session).

  2. Don’t play if you don’t know the tune (it’s usually OK to play quietly off to the side if you’re trying to learn the tune).

  3. Don’t hog the session; that is, don’t try to start off, or play between, every set of tunes. The session is not the excuse to play; rather, the music is the excuse for the musicians to meet and have a good time. It’s not necessary to have music going constantly.

  4. Try to be aware of the “craic level”, and try to foster it in your choice of tunes. Don’t sing or play something you know no one is going to be interested in.

  5. Don’t expect musicians at the session to teach you how to play (though you will often find those who will be happy to).

  6. Listen to the other musicians. Don’t get off–time or out–of–tune with them. If there seems to be a leader in a set of tunes, follow him or her.

  7. Enjoy yourself.

Hamilton Irish Arts sessions are held every Tuesday evening, starting at 8 o’clock, at the Corktown, 175 Young Street, Hamilton.