Old Time Square Dancing

Author: Philip Robinson & Will McAvoy

Date: 1995

Source: Ullans: The Magazine for Ulster-Scots, Nummer 3 Spring 1995

Keeping Ulster-Scots traditional dances alive

The survival of the Ulster-Scots traditional square dance is largely due to the work of one woman and her dancing class at Killinchy, county Down. Mrs Jeannie Peak was brought up in Ardmillan, near Killinchy. Her mother and father were very keen dancers and she learnt Polkas, Two-Steps, the Lancers, Quadrilles and Caledonians from her parents as a young girl. The old-time square dances (Lancers, Quadrilles and Caledonians) were well known throughout the countryside one or two generations ago. People danced and learnt to dance in the farmhouse kitchens. Mrs Peak remembers all these square dances being danced at dances in Ardmillan Orange Hall and elsewhere. A small building beside the present Orange Hall, which had been the old Hall, was so small that when the fiddlers called the lancers, there was only room for one ‘set’ at a time. When that set of four couples had finished, the next set would get up and take its turn. The dances at Ardmillan Orange Hall have included these country square dances right until today without a break, and the Caledonians have always been the favourite. Had Mrs Peak not, almost single-handedly, taken on the job of teaching the dances to the present generation, just as she had learnt them, almost certainly this tradition would have died out.

For the uninitiated, the ‘square’ dance consists of eightsome ‘sets’ of four couples, each with the dancers facing the centre of a small square. The lady is always to the right of the man in each couple that makes up the sides of the square. The term ‘set dancing’ is not used, but the dances are usually referred to by their individual names — ‘the Caledonians’, ‘the Lancers’, ‘the Quadrilles’, and so on. A ‘set’ is the formation of four couples in any of these dances, and so you can have 3, 4, or more ‘sets’ on the floor. ‘Old-Time Square Dances’ seems to be the name these dances are called nowadays, although 60 years ago they would not have been thought of as ‘Old-Time’. Mrs Peak uses this name partly because the name ‘square-dance’ by itself is now usually taken to mean the American square dance (with a ‘caller’) — the type we are all familiar with. Of course both the American and our own square dances are descended from exactly the same tradition. The ‘Quadrilles’ is the oldest and probably the original square dance. Sometimes it was called the “Quad-reel” in county Down, perhaps because some thought of it as a ‘square’ version of the older Scotch reels. In the early 1700s our ancestors played a card-game called ‘quadrilles’ which had four couples playing each other seated on each side of a square table. The ‘Quadrille’ as a name for the country dance only appears in Ulster for the first time during the early 1800s. Most people assume that the Caledonians, Lancers, — and the American Square Dances — developed from the Quadrille (which after all means a ‘square’). It looks likely that the American variety sprang from among the Ulster-Scots settlers in the southern states (the ‘Scotch-Irish’ as they are known there). The other reason the term ‘old-time square dance’ is preferred as a name is to distinguish it from the Irish ‘set’ dance tradition. Although there are some similarities between the Irish set dances and the old-time square dances, the practitioners of the latter are adamant that these are not the same thing.

Each square dance consists of a number (usually 5 or 6) of ‘figures’. These figures are separate dances within the dance — each with its own tune, a pause between, and its own sequence of steps. At the beginning of each ‘figure’ the couples ‘honour their partners’ during the first 8 bars of music by bowing to each other, turning and bowing again to the person of the opposite sex on their other side. During one of the movements when the dancers pass through each other (the ‘chain’), it is important that the men and women smile at each other — “Scottish Country Dancing style”.

How did Mrs Peak’s classes start? Some 15 years ago the minister of Killinchy Presbyterian Church asked Mrs Peak if the Women’s Group would arrange some music for a social night in the Church Hall. The two musicians she got were Jim Martin on the accordion and Willie McKeag (from Carrowdore) on the tin whistle. During the night Mrs Peak and others got up to dance with the music, after which the minister’s wife said she enjoyed it immensely — and asked if Mrs Peak would start a class. So the usual Presbyterian objections to dancing in the church hall were overcome.

The first dancing classes at Killinchy were held over the winter, from September on, and since then it continued as a ‘dance’ but with old-time square dances always being called. The Killinchy winter dances moved to Ardmillan Orange Hall two years ago.

Almost 10/11 years ago dances were also started by Mrs Peak in Raffery Orange Hall over the summer months, lasting from April until September when the Killinchy classes started again. The Raffery dances still continue during the summer months today, with almost all of the ‘square’ dancers there that can do the Caledonians and Quadrilles having been taught by Mrs Peak.

At the first Raffery old-time square dances the music was supplied by Jackie Donnan (fiddle) and a guitarist from Killyleagh. Shortly after a band consisting of Owen Moore (Accordion), Jim Muirhead (banjo and guitar), James Savage (fiddle), Caroline Berrow (fiddle), Addie McVea (fiddle) and Walter Frazer (drums) took over for the next 4 or 5 years. From then up to the present Samuel Miskelly with his piano-accordion has been playing at Raffery, and the dances now keep going all year round (Wednesdays, every fortnight). In the beginning only two or three couples knew the old square dances, apart from the 50 or 60 that came from Killinchy with Mrs Peak for the summer months.

The old-time dances that are favourites include ‘sequence’ dances such as the ‘Pride of Erin’, Two-Steps, Waltzes and Polkas such as the Heel and Toe Polka, the Plain Polka and the Polka Mazurka. Of course it is the square dances such as the Quadrilles, Caledonians and Lancers that are the most popular, and it is these which would have died out had Mrs Peak’s classes not kept them alive. Other square dances performed less regularly include the Waltz Cotillion and the Dalbert.

For a short time, Mrs Peak’s class was held at Kilmood, on a Tuesday night. This followed the Kilmood Fiddlers Night on Monday nights, which still continues, but years back, Kilmood had its own class for the Quadrilles organised by some of the local Church of Ireland parishioners. New classes are starting up all the time under Mrs Peak — who now even travels as far as Ballyclare in county Antrim for the purpose.

Can these ‘Old-Time’ Square Dances be regarded as ‘traditional’ Ulster-Scots country dances? There isn’t a clear-cut answer to that question. Certainly all the ‘square’ dances, including some of the modern ‘Irish set dances’, and the American square dances, seem to have a single origin in the Quadrille — a dance supposedly introduced from France to the British Isles about 1816. The Lancers and the Caledonians presumably developed very soon afterwards as variations of the Quadrilles, and these three dances were popular throughout the British Isles and America at the end of last century. Of course, that did not mean that the Quadrilles, or the Lancers, were danced in the same way in Co Down as they were in Ayrshire, Shropshire or Co Cork. Each district must have developed its own local styles, for they are not exactly the same in each area today.

How far back can we trace these square dances in the Ulster-Scots areas of Antrim and Down? For the best records we must go back to over 150 years ago when map-makers from the Ordnance Survey prepared a whole series of written descriptions of parishes throughout Ireland — descriptions which included the ‘habits, customs and amusements’ of local inhabitants. Ulster was covered by these ‘Ordnance Survey Memoirs’ during the 1830s, and these Memoirs spell out very clearly which parishes were peopled with Ulster-Scots (most of them being in counties Antrim and Down). The Surveyors preparing the Memoirs were English, Anglo-Irish, or Irish, and had a surprising hostility towards the Ulster-Scots. For example in the Parish of Carnmoney to the north of Belfast:

Parish of Carnmoney (east Antrim)

There is scarcely a tradition in the parish. This is not much to be wondered, when it is remembered that but 2 centuries have elapsed since their ancestors first settled in the country… There is not any ancient music in the parish. Their airs and ballads are merely those commonly known in the country, and are strictly Scottish… Their accent is peculiarly, and among the old people disagreeably strong and broad. Their idioms and saws are strictly Scottish. Four-fifths of the population of this parish are Presbyterians… The Covenanters worship at the meeting house in the hamlet of Carnmoney… They are still by some styled the “Cameronians” or “mountainy people” and are believed to retain usages of the ancient original Scottish church.

As far as dancing was concerned, the Memoir for Carnmoney does make mention of Quadrilles:

…Dancing is their favourite amusement. Scarce a month passes without there being a dance in some of the farmers’ houses, either in this parish or in those immediately adjoining it. Reels, country dances and sometimes quadrilles are the usual figures. The violin is the usual instrument, but the Highland pipes are also sometimes introduced. They dance pretty well and rather lightly. The refreshment consists of punch and biscuits. The dances got up among the factory people are not by any means conducted with the same propriety as those at the farmers’ houses.

The Parish of Carnmoney in the 1830s ran to the outskirts of north Belfast, and included Whitehouse, so here alone is mention made of dances “got up among the factory people”. Throughout counties Antrim and Down, wherever the population was described as “Scotch”, dancing is given as the most popular, and sometimes the only amusement.

Parish of Templecorran (east Antrim)

Formerly Dances in this and the surrounding Parishes, but particularly in Islandmagee are of frequent occurrence and were very numerously attended… Their accent idioms and phraseology are strictly and disagreeably Scottish partaking only of the broad and coarse accent and dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland… They have not any national music, their songs are merely the common ballads of the County and their airs like those of the Northern Counties are Scottish.

Parish of Islandmagee (east Antrim)

They have not any particular recreation, but all their sports are of a Scottish character. Dancing seems to be the favourite. “Punch dances” at public houses and dances given in the farmers barns, once a frequent occurrence, are now few and far between. They are fond of listening to music, the violin is their favourite instrument. The inhabitants, being all of a Scotch descent… retain the manners and habits of their ancestors… The people are very hospitable, but very blunt in their manners and obstinate in their opinions.

Parish of Grange of Ballywalter (east Antrim)

Attending a dance, idling a day or two at Christmas and Easter and giving to 2 or 3 of the summer fairs are now their own recreations. All the names are purely Scottish. The family of Shaw is said to be the most ancient in the grange. Almost the entire population are Presbyterians, there being scarcely a member of the Churches of England or Rome. There is no party spirit, but there is a strong prejudice against Protestantism and Popery.

The Parish of Mallusk, although also in east Antrim, was in a similar position to Carnmoney, as it also flanked the north of Belfast. Only in Carnmoney and Mallusk is there mention of Quadrilles, so, if they were only introduced to the British Isles 10-15 years previously, perhaps they were only starting to spread into the Ulster-Scots countryside during the 1830s.

Parish of Mallusk (east Antrim)

Dancing is a very favourite amusement… There are still several annual dances in this and the neighbouring districts. Those in the library at the hamlet of Roughfort in the parish of Templepatrick are among the most fashionable and are nicely got up. Among the better description of farmers the assistance and services of a dancing master are indispensable, while among the lower class a few steps accidentally picked up are quite sufficient, with their naturally good taste and ears, to ensure their excelling in this lively accomplishment.

Among the farmers, quadrilles, country dances and reels, and with the lower class the 2 latter figures are at present in vogue. Their dances, whether subscription or private, are in general nicely got up and are conducted with decorum and propriety. The parties come in full dress, and in their hours of breaking up imitate the example of their superiors…

There is much taste for music, but they have not any other than the common airs of the country. The violin is the favourite instrument with the men and several perform on it…

Their dialect, accent, idioms and customs are strictly Scottish, and among the old people are many homely and pithy old saws and proverbs. …little or no party spirit. They are almost equally prejudiced against property and tithes. They are independent almost to bigotry towards any other persuasion [than Presbyterian]. They are rather rough and blunt.

The mention of “dancing masters” in Mallusk is repeated for the Parish of Kilwaughter (east Antrim):

…dancing is the only amusement. There are occasional dances in the farmhouses of the parish, and at present a dancing school has just commenced. It consists of about 6 pupils, each pay 5s per quarter, chiefly females attend.

Throughout the rest of county Antrim, less detail is given about what dances were performed but wherever dancing is highlighted as the principal amusement, the inhabitants are always described as being “Scottish” and with “Scotch customs and music”:

Parish of Carncastle and Killyglen (east Antrim)

Cards, dancing and cock-fighting are the principal amusements… too thoroughly Scotch to allow any patron’s [Saints] days. The inhabitants still retain the Scottish habits and accent.

Parish of Drumtullagh (north Antrim)

…peopled by the descendants of the Scottish and English emigrants. The Scotch language is spoken in great purity… Dancing and a little cock-fighting are their principal amusements.

Parish of Billy (north Antrim)

…fond of dancing.

Parish of Derrykeighan (north Antrim)

…principal amusements are dancing and a little cock-fighting.

Parish of Ballyrashane (north Londonderry)

Dances occasionally take place.

Parish of Aghanloo (north Londonderry)

The local customs most prevalent are the same as what are prevalent among all Scottish inhabitants of the country… dancing is a favourite amusement… they seem to be very fond of fiddle playing. Singing schools are held in rotation among the Presbyterian farmers’ houses and after music, both sacred and profane, a dance generally concludes.

Parish of Dundermot (Antrim)

dancing is the only amusement… inhabitants all descendants of the Scotch Presbyterians.

Parish of Racavan (Antrim)

dancing and singing parties… the great mass of the population are Presbyterian.

Parish of Grange of Shilvoden (Antrim)

inhabitants display disagreeable Scottish manners… dancing now nearly given up.

Parish of Ahoghill (Antrim)

Cock-fighting, card-playing and dances, which formerly were numerously attended, are now, except the latter, and it very seldom, never known among that body… owing to the exertions of their clergy… inhabitants much resemble the Scots in their habits, customs and dialect. They are rather dogged, obstinate and blunt.

Parish of Armoy (north Antrim)

They seem to be almost exclusively of Scottish extraction… The inhabitants towards the more mountainous parts and very uncouth and ignorant… Their principal amusement is dancing.

Parish of Ballintoy (north Antrim)

They are all the descendants of the Scottish settlers of the 16th century, as may be inferred from their very broad Scotch dialect and accent… Except dancing, they cannot be said to have any particular amusement.

Parish of Ramoan (north Antrim)

Dancing forms the principal amusement of the lower class and in this they indulge frequently, particularly at the fairs and large markets in Ballycastle, at which time there is generally a room in each public house set apart for that purpose.

Parish of Connor (Antrim)

Dancing is their only amusement. Dancing and singing parties are the principal resort in the evenings.

Other Ulster-Scots parishes in Antrim, including Finvoy, Killygen, Kirkinriola, Skerry and Drummaul, all contain a single brief reference to “a little dancing”, “dancing their only amusement” and so on. When the Ordnance Surveyors wrote the Memoirs for Co. Down, they made mention of the same sort of things as in county Antrim in the Parishes where the inhabitants were “Scotch”. Unfortunately, they did not seem to make notes about what sort of recreations were enjoyed. One exception was the Parish of Greyabbey:

The country people appear fond of dancing, some of whom are proficient in a description of reel. An annual ball takes place in the village about the month of July. It appears to be exclusively Masonic… The inhabitants are almost exclusively Presbyterian.

These Ordnance Survey Memoirs establish beyond any doubt that during the 1830s the same areas that are ‘Ulster-Scots’ today were even more strikingly ‘Scotch’ in those days. Dancing was easily the most popular Ulster-Scots tradition, the music usually being provided by a fiddler, but sometimes by the ‘Highland pipes’. Everything about these people seemed strangely and stubbornly ‘Scotch’ to the Surveyors — and this applied no less to their music and dancing. Reels, ‘Country Dances’ and ‘sometimes Quadrilles’ only give us a glimpse of the nature of the dances themselves. The Lancers and the Caledonians are not mentioned — but that is what might be expected if these square dances developed later from the Quadrilles. We cannot tell what the old ‘country dances’ were, but they may well have provided the originals for the oldest of the dances now preserved by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

The Quadrilles and the other old-time dances may have started off as fashionable ‘new’ dances. However they must have blended in very quickly with the older country dances. From the beginning they were danced to Scotch tunes, picking up the local steps, variation and styles. They were danced in farmhouses as well as in larger buildings.

It is difficult to turn the clock back much before the 1830s to see what dances were traditional to the Ulster-Scots before the ‘square’ dances became popular. Samuel Thomson, the bard of Carngranny (near Carnmoney) published his first book of Ulster-Scots poems in 1793. There are casual references to dances throughout, such as in his ‘Elegy, to my auld shoen’:

Nae mair my social hours ye’ll dree;

Nae mair ye’ll scour the daisied lee;

Nae mair to dance ye’ll carry me,

Nor ever mair

Those happiest of my minutes see

Beside my fair.

One of his poems, however, was called ‘The Country Dance’, and was 16 verses long. Only one line gives any clue to the dances:

At countra’ dances, jigs and reels

Alternatively they ranted,

although in a different verse he says

Now o’er the floor in wanton pairs,

They foot it to the fiddle;

the maidens muster a’ their airs,

the young men skip an’ striddle.

The rest of the poem, like most of the other Ulster-Scots poetry that mentions country dancing, concentrates almost exclusively on the fun, games and exploits that surrounded the occasions. Naturally it never occurred to them that 200 years later, we might be interested to know what the actual dances were!

Many of the ‘old-time’ dances that are still popular today were ‘new’ dances in the 1850s and 1860s — dances such as the Polkas (of which many ‘country’ versions now exist), the many ‘old-time’ dances based on the Waltz, and of course the old-time square dances such as the Lancers, Caledonians, the Dalbert and later still the Waltz Cotillion. A generation after the Ordnance Survey Memoirs were written, about 1860, the Lancers, Quadrilles and Caledonians were well established. One of the best known Ulster-Scots poets from county Down during that era — Bob Huddleston of Moneyreagh — wrote no fewer than four lengthy poems about dancing — “The Dance at Paddys Toun”; “The Dancing”; “The Dancing School”; and “The Dancing Night”. Despite the fact that he penned page after page of broad Ulster-Scots poetry about dancing — over 1000 lines in these four poems alone — Bob Huddleston didn’t have much to say about the actual types of dances performed. In his earliest poem “The Dancing Night”, which was written about 1848, only 4 of the 800 lines tell us anything at all:


And figures money they did dance

Baith English Iris Scotch an French


now dancin went on wae merry fun

and fiddles did roar like a gun.

In “The Dance at Paddy’s Toun”, one line went: “set on set thus squared the floor”, and elsewhere:


cuts and capers odd frae France

Joy did a’ the folk entrance

Danced and spreed at Paddy’s Dance


up then got a jig to dance

Span-new braw frae Bawdy’s Toun:

Up they got — the Band went strang,

At the “Pushing Step” they’re thrang.

One completely different poem of Huddleston’s “Ye nobles a o Parliament”, has a passing mention of the ‘aul quadrill’:

Let Wellington blaw lood an shrill

Till he dis scarr baith knowt an Bill

By dancin up thay aul quadrill

O wha the scampt aff Bunkers hill.

Most of the limited amount of information Bob Huddleston gives us comes from his poem “The Dancing”:

The fiddler now is just arrived


A meikle carle grim and bauld

To dance and sing the Heelin Fling

As a’ they’re dancing roun’ him

And while pantin’ and gauntin’

For breath some take the door

E’en sprucely and crucely

Some other square the floor


And on the danced till a’ they peght

And scoured the floor baith right and left

Set after set, like weaver’s weft

And aye the crossed and cleekit

And reels and gigs and figures wro’ght

And hornpipes too wi’ merry a’ght

Till a’ are tired “fore and aft”

And they all reeked and sweatit


Now on the floor behold! the dance

Whas up a hornpipe for to dance

A hornpipe by a funny wench

As bad as bawdy lookin’

Sae figity amid her fun

Her steps they aye to striddles run


And aye she bobbed wi’ every step

As at it she would fain be

While played the fiddler till he swet

And aired up Cockabendy.

Bob Huddleston described in great detail just about everything else that happened at a dance — except the dancing — including the types of people there, the musicians, the courting, the ructions, the food and drink, the arguments and the party games. Just as is suggested in the Ordnance Survey memoirs, there seems to have been little difference between a dancing or a singing class. In “The Dancing”, Bob Huddleston describes some of the “party games” (most of which were courtship or kissing games):

Here some ride the wooden mare

And some are at Blinbarnet

And sho’el the brogue e’en try some mair

Wha ither sports for care not

And while the fiddler’s in the room

Wi’ favourites yet a bousin

See in the kitchen here’s a gang

That muckle time’s no loosin’.

In a poem called “The Country Singing”, the poet John Dickey of Donegore (county Antrim) wrote in 1818 of one diversion, the “frisky dance” and gave a note to explain it:

The “frisky dance”[1] is now put round

A rude-like scene indeed

B A Botkin’s classic Treasury of American Folklore published in 1944 has an entire section on “Singing and party games” which begins:

In the field of the game and dance, two distinctive American developments from British sources are the square dance quadrille, or cotillion (as distinguished from the English contra-dance or longways dance, which still persists in New England) and the play party.

In the United States the term square dance has come to stand for old-time sequence dancing generally, whether of the square, longways, or circle formation. Although the guitar and the banjo are used to accompany the fiddle at dances, “the fiddle is the American folk musical instrument par excellence”.

Because of religious prejudice against dancing and especially the fiddle, as the instrument of the devil, the young people of rural America developed the play-party as an alternative form of amusement, which substituted singing for instrumental accompaniment. A cross between dancing, and the traditional singing games of children, the play-party retains the best features of both. To the courtship and other dramatic devices of the game, such as choosing and stealing partners, the play-party adds certain square dance movements and figures, in which, however, partners are swung by the hands instead of by the waist.

It is clear to anyone familiar with the Ulster-Scots traditions of the last century that square dancing, singing and ‘play-parties’ were all part of the scene in Antrim and Down 150 years ago. Today, of course, the old-time square dancers are respectable couples, and the ‘play-party’ courtship games are reserved for children’s and young people’s gatherings — including surprisingly enough, annual Sunday-School parties! One of the American games called “Hog Drovers” is described by Botkin as “originally an Irish game played at wakes”. He gives the song that is sung, and describes the game which (like the “frisky dance” above) invokes a couple sitting on chairs in the middle of a room, other couples walking hand in hand round them, and a change of partners at the end of each verse. The last couple paired form a bridge by joining hands and the other couples pass through. Any imprisoned couples under the bridge must kiss. (Both authors of this article remember similar games at Sunday-school parties.) The Ulster-American connections with the traditional square dance, therefore, seem to be much deeper than just the dances themselves.

Coming back to the square dance here at the beginning of this century, John Stevenson, writing in 1905 as Pat McCarty, Farmer of Antrim His Rhymes with a Setting, gives a description of the dancing after a ‘quilting’ party:

A weel — wi’ grace on lassies side and vigour on the mens,

They danc’d in ev’ry step and time and customs o’ the airt;

And tho’ they danc’d besides in ways nae dancin’ master kens

The airm aroon’ yer lassies’ waist’s the maist important pairt.

Another of his poems ‘The Dance at Widow Clarkes’ makes mention of the ‘waltz’ (as if it was a new dance), the polka and the ‘auld quadreel’.

There’s gaun to be some dancin’ at Weeda Clarke’s the day

I’m practeesin’ the waltz

An’ tho’ wi’ mony faults,

I’m able noo to dae it in a sort o’ kind o’ way.

It’s no a common dance;

It cam’, they say, frae France

Or Jarmany it may be — some far ootlandish way,

We’ll no’ brak up till three,

In fack it’s gaun to be

The kind o’ enterteenment that the top o’ gintry hae.


I ken the auld quadreel,

And polka middlin’ weel,

But whirlin’ till yer dizzy is a deil’s inventit way;

We spin roon’ like a tap,

Until we’re fit to drap,

Then hap the way I’ll show ye — as the titled gintry dae.

Numerous other Ulster-Scots writers make mention of dancing in the country farmhouses, but they give very little information about the dances, preferring to concentrate on the social occasion as a whole. Quite simply, there is not enough information in the historical record for us to reconstruct now what way the ‘country dances’ and square dances such as the ‘quadrilles’ were actually danced over a century ago. The only way of catching a glimpse of these ‘old-time’ traditions of dancing is by witnessing the real thing in action.

But what is the real thing? In 1950 Victor Sylvester first published his book Old Time Dancing, which has become a classic. It includes the instructions for the whole range of Square Dances: The Lancers, The Quadrille, The Waltz Cotillion, and The Caledonians. But there is very little similarity between Victor Sylvester’s version of these dances and how they are danced by Mrs Peak’s dancing class at Killinchy. The music and the steps are in completely different modes. Two generations ago, literally tens of thousands of people could have gone through the Ulster-Scots traditional square dance steps. Nowadays, but for a handful of people such as Mrs Peak who have kept these traditions alive, we would have no possibility of knowing anything at all about our very own dancing tradition.

This article has been written to point out the importance of the connections between the Ulster-Scots of America and Ireland, and as an acknowledgement of Mrs Peak’s role in passing on knowledge of the square dances for another generation.

Philip Robinson

Will McAvoy


[1] Six young women are set upon a form; then eight young men rise, seven of whom take hands in a round ring, whilst one sings in the middle as they dance round — “The Friar he danced the frisky dance,” etc. Thus, round they caper and chorus, till he in the middle sings out a watchword, at which the seven youths fly like as many lions upon the fair creatures, each struggling for a kiss, because he that gets none is cobbed, that is, he is beat upon the soles of his feet with a piece of broad board, or a good tight shillelagh, which is to him a truely mortifying scene — such is the Frisky Dance.

Mrs Peak's prize winning set of dancers

Mrs Peak’s prize-winning set of dancers (ladies wearing medals). ‘Lancers’ dancing competition, Crossgar, Co Down, 1986.

Left to Right:

(Men, back row) Billy Clarke, John Crosby, Samuel James Gibson (deceased), Joe Orr.

(Ladies; front row) Mrs Jean Clarke, Mrs Eilish Crosby, Mrs Margaret Gibson and Mrs J Peak.



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