The Ballyvourney Jig Set from Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, Ireland
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The Ballyvourney Jig Set (Co. Cork):

Formula: house, square, swing and slide
Music: slides, e.g. The Abbey Ceili Band "Bruach an tSulain" CD, track 18

Pattern for all figures:

Tops first, then Sides: house, square, swing and slide - the swing is the only bit that changes.
  • House: two steps in place, then dance around the opposite couple, back to place (8)
  • Square: slide to next position on right, slide backwards to opposite place (1,2,3,kick, back,2, 1,2,3), dance to home (8)
  • Swing: see "Swing" below
  • Slide: slide in/out, dance to opposite (8), slide in/out, dance to home (8)[16]

1st figure: swing your own partner at home:

swing your own partner at home (8)
2nd figure: swing opposite, then swing your own:

gents straight across and swing the opposite lady (8), then cross back and swing your own partner (8)[16]
3rd figure: swing in 4:

swing in four with the opposite couple for 16 bars, with a jump in the middle [16]
4th figure: swing all round:

gents swing each of the 4 ladies, starting with the lady on the left and finishing with your own partner [32]
5th figure: swing your own partner in the opposite place:

everyone face your partner, right hand in right, dance around your partner to face the other way, chain to the opposite place (8) and swing your partner (8)[16]

- there is no break between the figures: when Tops finish, Sides repeat and when Sides finish, Tops immediately start the next Figure
- in the 5th figure only, all four couples join in for the Swing and the Slide
- in the 5th figure, Sides start the figure from the opposite place
- at the end of the 5th figure, all 4 couples finish off the set with a house around

The way the set is described above is how it is danced throughout most of Ireland today. Timmy McCarthy, who was better known as "Timmy The Brit", said that the original Ballybourney Jig Set, which he got from Peadar O'Riada, was danced slightly differently:
- in all figures, the first two bars were danced with the lady reversing and the gent dancing forward, in much the same way as in the West Kerry.
- in the 2nd figure, when the gents are coming back to swing their own partners, the four dancers "gather up", making as if to form a swing in 4, but then break off again and continue home to swing their own partners.

These variations, which are small compared to how it's danced today, feel very natural and add to the enjoyment of the dance. By reversing the first two bars, the dancers have moved on quarter way in the first two bars, so there's no need to make up the "lost two bars", as in today's version. The "gather up" in the second figure is a nice friendly touch.

In class, we will teach the set as it's danced today, but explain how it was originally danced, so that dancers can then choose whether to dance it with or without "Timmy's variations".


This summary is intended as a memory aid for people attending my classes, it is not intended as stand-alone instructional material

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The Ballyvourney Jig Set from Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, Ireland