THE CONNEMARA REEL SET

Study Notes Copyright William Lynch 2007

First Figure - Ladies' Chain (Reels) 160 bars
1 Lead around and back: with crossed hand hold, couples lead around anti-clockwise (6 bars). Dancers turn clockwise, the ladies under both raised arms (2 bars), and couples lead back to place (6 bars), face each other ('face up') and 'step it out' (2 bars). 16 bars
2 Swing partners, with ceili hold (6 bars), finish facing centre and step it out (2 bars). 8 bars
3 Top couples:
Advance and retire twice, with crossed hand hold.
8 bars
House around with the same hold, the gent's R fist above his L, face up and step it out. 8 bars
Swing, face centre and step it out. 8 bars
4 Side couples now dance 3. 24 bars
5 Top couples:
Ladies chain R hands in the centre and L to opposite gent who turns her clockwise underarm and dances anti-clockwise a turn (4 bars). Ladies pass back R to R while gents dance turn clockwise to face their partners and step it out (4 bars).
8 bars
Swing, face centre and step it out. 8 bars
6 Side couples chain and swing. 16 bars
7 Top couples now repeat 3. 24 bars
8 Side couples now repeat 3. and when sides house around, tops join in to face up and step it out, swing and step it out. 24 bars
Second Figure - Back-to-Back (Reels) 192 bars
1 Lead around and back. 16 bars
2 Swing, face centre and step it out. 8 bars
3 Top couples:
Back-to-back: 1st gent and 2nd lady dance past each other R to R (2 bars), pass each other back to back (2 bars), fall back to face each other (2 bars) and step it out (2 bars).
8 bars
The dancing couple swing, falling back to their own positions on the last 2 bars. 8 bars
Dancing couples, with crossed hand hold:
Advance and retire twice.
House around, face up and step it out.
Swing, face centre and step it out.
24 bars
4 Side couples now dance 3. with 1st gent (R of 1st tops) and 2nd lady leading. 40 bars
5 Top couples now repeat 3. with 2nd gent and 1st lady leading. 40 bars
6 Side couples now repeat 3. with 2nd gent and 1st lady leading and when sides house around, tops join in to face up and step it out, swing and step it out. 40 bars
Third Figure - an Gairdin Beag (Reels) 184 bars
1 Circle, advance and retire twice, dancers turning to face up and step it out as they retire for the second time. 8 bars
2 Swing, face centre and step it out. 8 bars
3 1st top couple:
Advance and retire with waist hold (4 bars), drop hands and advance again each turning outwards 1 turn, face up and step it out (4 bars).
8 bars
Swing, face centre and step it out. On the last two bars 2nd top couple dances in to join them in the centre. 8 bars
Swing four, falling back to place on the last 2 bars. 8 bars
Ladies chain. 8 bars
Swing, face centre and step it out. 8 bars
4 1st side couple now leads to dance 3. with 2nd side couple. 40 bars
5 2nd top couple now leads to dance 3. with 1st top couple. 40 bars
6 2nd side couple now leads to dance 3. with 1st side couple, and when sides house around, tops join in to face up and step it out, swing and step it out. 40 bars
Fourth Figure - Maggie in the Woods (Polka) 96 bars
1 Circle. 8 bars
2 Polka at home. 8 bars
3 Circle, and on the last 2 bars the ladies dance on to the gent on their R and take waltz hold. 8 bars
4 New couples polka round to the next place on the gents' R. *
Circle and ladies move on.
16 bars
5 Polka round to the next place on the gents' R.
Circle and ladies move on.
16 bars
6 Polka round to the next place on the gents' R.
Circle and ladies dance on to their own partners.
16 bars
7 Polka round to place. 8 bars
8 Swing. 8 bars
* When Mick Mulkerrin teaches this set he has couples accenting the 1st and 5th bars of the Polka round with a slight dip towards the centre of the set.
REEL STEP
The step is characteristic of this set, and very different from that danced in the sets of Co.Clare. It is, in essence, a doubled reel step, with 2 beats being made by each foot in the same time taken to move the foot once in the Clare style.

&

1

2

3

&

2

2

3

&

3

2

3

&

Ladies

hL

RhR

LhL

RhR

hR

LhL

RhR

LhL

hL

RhR

LhL

RhR

hR

etc.

Gents

hR

LhL

RhR

LhL

hL

RhR

LhL

RhR

hR

LhL

RhR

LhL

hL

etc.

NOTE that hL means hop on the left foot while Lh means that the left heel strikes the floor and is immediately lifted - the underline shows which foot bears the weight on that beat.

Two BREAK STEPS which can be used to 'step it out' are:

&

7

2

3

&

8

2

3

Ladies

L

R

L

R

L

L

R

L

Gents

R

L

R

L

R

R

L

R

hop

heelstep

heelstep

heelstep

stamp

step

heelstep

stamp

(fwd)

(Connie Ryan)

and:

&

7

2

3

&

8

2

3

Ladies

L

R

R

L

L

R

L

R

Gents

R

L

L

R

R

L

R

L

hop

back

hop(fwd)

back

hop(fwd)

back

step

step(fwd)

(Mick Mulkerrin)
SOURCES
Connie Ryan at Cecil Sharp House, London, 1992 was my first source. He told us that the first two figures were originally one and that when this was split the movements in the first part were rearranged to obtain the present symmetry. I believe he had a hand in this and also in starting the new second figure in the same way as the first.
My second source was Mick Mulkerrin some time later and from him I had the second break step. He preferred it to the first as it is a sean nos step of some antiquity. Mick also told me that the doubled reel step is also characterised by a definite knee-lift before the heel hits the floor at the beginning of each step. It is a safety measure as well as a matter of style as, properly executed, it prevents the rising heel from being thrown back and presenting a hazard to other dancers.

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