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The Traditon Continues Step dancing is distinctively Irish combining artistry grace and physical ability The history of Irish dance reveals a constant shifting of population through migration and invasions Evidence shows that the first practitioners were the Gaels or more specifically the Druids priests or learned men who danced in religious rituals honoring the oak tree and the sun These people spread over Western Europe including France Northern Spain and the British Isles spreading to Ireland in the third century BC Historians record a variety of dances done by the Irish in the mid 1500s These include the Rinnce Fada or Fading where two lines with partners faced each other Irish Hey jigs Trenchmores and sword dances Richens 1 The Rinnce Fada Trenchmore and the Irish Hey are the three principal dances mentioned often in sixteenth century writing One of the first references to dance is in a letter written by Sir Henry Sydney to Queen Elizabeth I in 1569 They are very beautiful magnificently dressed and first class dancers Sydney wrote of the girls he saw dancing Irish jigs in Galaway Sydney went on to describe the dance formation observing the dancers in two straight lines which suggests they were performing an early version of the Rinnce Fada Cullinae 5 During the mid sixteenth century dances were performed in the great halls of the newly built castles Some of the dances were adapted by the sixteenth century English invaders and brought to the court of Queen Elizabeth One of these dances was the Trenchmore an adaptation of an old Irish peasant dance Irelands Eye 1 From this period onward another style of dance called the Hey was popular where female dancers wound around their partners in a forerunner of the present day reel When royalty arrived in Ireland young women performing native dances greeted them at the shore When King James landed at Kinsale County Cork in 1780 dancers welcomed him Three people
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