Cavan’s old town hall features in this week’s Thursday Doors. It has recently been given a makeover and looks so much better. No longer the town’s administrative building it’s now the Town Hall Cavan Arts Centre, where courses and events in the arts are held.
One of my favourite sculptures in the town is right beside this lovely building and is set in a bed of roses. It’s such a joyful piece, it makes me smile every time I see it.
It is the work of artist Tina Quinn depicting a father and daughter dancing. This reflects the important roles that music and dance have always played in Irish culture. In bygone days, usually in summertime, young people would walk miles to meet up for a reel and a jig, often at a crossroads. Spontaneous bouts of music and dance would also occur at someone’s home if there was a fiddle player or tin whistle on hand. Even travel journals from the early 1800’s give accounts of how much the Irish ‘peasants’ loved to dance. One of the first references to Irish dance is in a letter written in 1569 by Sir Henry Sydney to Queen Elizabeth 1st of England, “They are very beautiful, magnificently dressed and first class dancers,” Sydney wrote of the girls he saw dancing enthusiastic Irish jigs in Galway.
In the newly independent Ireland of the 1930’s the government was greatly influenced by the Catholic church. This resulted in morality being very strictly monitored and eventually the Public Hall Dance Act of 1935 was brought in. This allowed dance gatherings to be regulated by introducing a licensing system and a tax on admission. It was basically a ban on groups of people gathering to dance in domestic and non-regulated places. Interestingly, contraceptives were also banned that same year. If you would like to read more about the history of Irish dance here’s a good link.
Thanks for joining me on this week’s blog post. For a great selection of Thursday Doors carry on over to Norm’s blog.