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Céilí ( Irish , Pl. Céilithe , Scottish Gaelic cèilidh , "visit") originally referred to a social gathering of any kind, a party . Today in Ireland and Scotland it is usually understood as a special dance event at which Céilí dances are danced.


In Scotland and Northern Ireland the term originally meant "visit"; z. B. in expressions like "going to a kaley" or "making one's kaley". At such cèilidhs, stories were told, poems recited, songs were sung and puzzles were posed.

The first Irish céilí in the present sense was held on October 30, 1897 at Bloomsbury Hall in London . The London Gaelic League attended Scottish Cèilidh evenings in London in search of new activities. It was decided to use the name céilithe for the London evening events based on the structure of the Scottish events. The dances of this first event were " Sets , Quadrilles and Waltzes to Irish music". The figure dances known today as “ céilí dance ” emerged later.

Céilí bands

At the beginning of the 20th century, numerous dance bands emerged in Ireland that played on Céilithe. Sometimes they were permanent, professional groups, sometimes the musicians came together spontaneously. The typical instruments were fiddle , flute , accordion , piano , drums ( large and small drum with wooden block ), banjo and sometimes a double bass . The name "céilí band" was probably used for the first time in 1918. The peak of their spread was in the 1950s. Most of the bands disappeared, along with the regular Céilithe, by around 1980. Individual bands, such as the Kilfenora Céilí Band , founded in 1910 , still exist today.


  • Fintan Vallely: The Companion to Irish Traditional Music. New York: New York University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8147-8802-5
  • Robbie Shepherd: Let's have a Ceilidh. Edinburgh: Canongate, Revised Edition 1996. ISBN 0-86241-513-6

Individual evidence

  1. Edward Dwelly: Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary. Edinburgh 1993 (first publ. 1901-11). ISBN 1-874744-04-1
  2. Alexander Carmichael : Carmina Gadelica, 1900, Vol. I, pp. Xxviii [1]
  3. Kilfenora Céilí Band

Web links

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