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Track 2: The Barn Dance

Track 2. The Barn DanceHornpipes - Pride of Petravore / The Devil’s Dream / The Cuckoo’s Nest

There is little doubt that dancing existed amoung the Irish population throughout its history, but it was not until the plantation of English and Scottish settlers in Ireland during the 16th and 17th centuries that the formal and specific arrangements of the dances were recorded. The jig, reel and hornpipe were the first rhythms used for Quadrilles – the main type of dances at the great houses of the military aristocracy in Ireland. After Oliver Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland, many English settlers were granted large tracts of land on which they settled. On occasion, travelling dance masters would come from England to teach the household the latest fashionable dances from Europe. These dance masters, if not fiddlers themselves, were usually attended by a fiddler to provide music for their lessons. However, because the members of the household had to rely on their own resources when the dance master moved on, they quickly acquired fiddles and provided their own music. As the fiddles aged and were replaced, they were passed down to the peasants who worked in the households. In this manner, the dance tradition spread through the native population giving rise to native dance masters who travelled throughout the country from cabin to cabin where they were paid by cottiers to teach their children dancing. In Kerry, it was not uncommon to hold the dancing school in conjunction with a hedge school.

This set of hornpipes came from England and Scotland and are typical of the type of hornpipes that would have been danced to by the aristocracy in the great houses and by peasants in the countryside.

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