All Irish Set Dances Allowed By An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha

A set dance is a particular tune, in either a hornpipe or jig rhythm, which has a corresponding solo step dance choreography. There are at least 40 of these tunes in the Irish tradition. Set dances …

  • are in hornpipe or in jig time. Half of all set dances are hornpipes, half are in jig time.
  • are longer than typical Irish dance tunes. Irish traditional dance tunes usually have 2 parts of 8 bars each. However, out of the 40 set dances on my list, 39 of them have at least one part that is longer than 8 bars.*
  • tend to have asymmetrical form, e.g. the B part of the tune is longer than the A part. 34 of the 40 set dances have a B part that is longer than the A part.**

If you’re an Irish dancer, here’s a list of all 30 set dances (allowed by An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha, no less) with all relevant data, so you can make an informed decision on the best dance for you to learn next.

Rince Seit Traidisiúnta An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha

Traditional Set Dances permitted by Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, with minimum speed, time signature, bars in step, bars in set, and total bar count. Designed to help dance students choose their optimal set dance for performance.
Teideal: GaeilgeTitle: EnglishMinimum SpeedTime SignatureBars In StepBars In SetTotal Bars
Cúlú BonaparteBonaparte's Retreat764/482028
Gairdín Na NóiníníGarden Of Daisies764/481624
Cuir Thart An CrúscaHurry The Jug666/881624
Bhfuil An Fear Mór Istigh?Is The Big Man Within?669/8 & 6/88816
An Greas GiúrnálaJob Of Journeywork764/481422
An Marcach Chuig An AonachJockey To The Fair666/881422
Rásaí Chill ChoinnighKilkenny Races764/482432
Rí Na SiogKing Of The Fairies762/481624
Madam BonaparteMadam Bonaparte764/481220
Rogha Iníon De BrúnMiss Brown's Fancy666/881624
Plancstaí DaibhéisPlanxty Davis762/4161632
Plancstaí DrúiríPlanxty Drury666/8121628
Plancstaí Aodh Ó DomhnaillPlanxty Hugh O'Donnell666/8161632
Glóir RodneyRodney's Glory762/481220
Cuimil An MálaRub The Bag666/881422
Lá Fhéile PádraigSt. Patrick's Day666/881422
Aon Agus Dó Na PíobaireachtaAce And Deuce Of Pipering764/4121224
An LondubhBlackbird762/4153045
An Maide DroighneánBlackthorn Stick666/8151530
Cladhaire Na Súile GormaBlue-Eyed Rascal764/481220
Bean An GhlantacháinCharlady666/882432
Titim ParisDownfall Of Paris762/481624
An Bheidhleadóir Ag An Crann SíFiddler Around The Fairy Tree666/881220
Na Ceithre MáistríFour Masters764/481220
An Gaueger MeisceachFunny Tailor / Drunken Gauger666/8151530
Pléaracha na BandanHumours Of Bandon666/881624
An FiachHunt764/481220
Na Buachaillí BáireHurling Boys666/881422
Bóthar An LóisteLodge Road762/482028
An Rógaire BuíOrange Rogue666/881624
An PíobairePiper764/481220
An Réice FáinRambling Rake764/481624
An Mangaire FáinRoving Pedlar764/481422
An Geag SíléaladhSprig Of Shillelagh666/861016
An ScéalaíStoryteller666/881624
Na Trí Captéin MaraThree Sea Captains666/882028
Loch An Rith AmachVanishing Lake666/8141832
An Ceoltóir FáinTwandering Musician666/881624
An Súisín BánWhite Blanket764/481220
Cuan EochailleYoughal Harbour764/461420

*For the record, the only set dance with the standard form of 2 x 8-bar parts is ‘Bhfuil An Fear Mór Istigh? / Is The Big Man Within? But this tune is a total outlier in terms of rhythm – the A part is in 9/8, the B part is in 6/8! So my summary is: set dances are just weird. Even if they’re normal in one way, watch out, because they will be weird in another. !

**to add evidence to my ‘set dances are just weird’ theory, the 5 following set dances, which have symmetrical form, do not have a typical 8 bars per part:

The Ace & Deuce Of Pipering – 12 bars per part

Blackthorn Stick, Drunken Gauger – 15 bars per part

Planxty Davis, Planxty Hugh O’Donnell – 16 bars per part

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.