A Global Research Institute of Queen's University Belfast


License To Ceilidh


written by Matt O'Neill, PhD Student Assistant to 2016 Summer School

Students from the Irish Studies and Conflict Transformation International Summer Schools were both treated to an evening of Irish Céilí dancing with the wonderful Claire Hughes as our teacher for the evening. Students were able to learn the complexity of ‘light foot and toe work’ and practice such dances as ‘Tory Island’ and ‘Harvest Time Bloom’.

The word Céilí (kay-lee) when translated from Irish to English means dance. Yet, the social context of the word involves much more than just coming together for a night of Irish (or Scottish) dancing, music and recalling folk tales. It also involves people coming together and seeing old and making new friends and of course making memories with one another. The students embraced the event in full not only in their dancing but in forging new understanding of one another’s cultural make up and national identity. They took full advantage of forging new international friendships. The space which was created in the Great Hall was one which allowed for students to be open and honest about what they are learning at the Summer School and as always to have the Craic!

‌In Ireland we have a proverb ‘Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’ – meaning it is in each other’s shadow that we flourish. And indeed in the days following the Ceilidh the students have embraced this saying. They have been able to learn of the conflict that ‌happened within Northern Ireland and indeed what has brought us to this point, as a post conflict society. Together they have been able to push and support one another in their critical thinking skills to analyse and understand what took place here. As students go they are excellent global citizens with a broad and far reaching outlook, able to utilise their new founds skills and friendships developed at the Summer School to help others. So it is important to not only have learning in the class room environment but also provide an opportunity to learn from each other as people.

Go raibh maith agat

‌For more information on Irish Dancing and Culture:

  • The Complete Guide to Irish Dance by Frank Whelan (2000)
  • The Story of Irish Dance by Helen Brennan (2001)
  • Dancing at the Crossroads: Memory and Mobility in Ireland by Helena Wulff (2008)

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