1997 was the centenary of the first formal céilí and Cairde Rince Céilí na hÉireann (Comóradh an Chéid) was formed late in 1996 to commemorate this event and to reactivate interest in the native céilí dancing throughout Ireland during centenary year. This was done by organising a series of classes and workshops throughout the country. They were followed by four provincial Fíor-Chéilithe. The Leinster one was held in Ballyroan, Co. Laois; the Ulster Fíor-Chéilí was held in Galbally, Co. Tyrone; the Connacht one was in Tooreen, Co. Mayo and the Munster Fíor-Chéilí was in Askeaton, Co. Limerick. All of these events culminated in a national weekend of céilí dancing in St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare on the October Bank Holiday Weekend of 1997. This included workshops, a course for potential céilí dance teachers, three Fíor-Chéilithe, Fíor-Chéilí na nÓg, a lecture on the history of céilí dancing given by Maitiú Ó Maoiléidigh R.I.P., Church of Ireland Service and a Mass concelebrated by Bishop Joseph Duffy, Clogher; Fr. Sean Clerkin and Fr. Finnian Connaughton.
When centenary year was over, it was decided that there was a need for a national organisation to promote non-competitive céilí dancing and a committee was elected. Cairde Rince Céilí na hÉireann is a national voluntary cultural organisation for the promotion of non-competitive céilí dancing among all age groups throughout Ireland.
At adult level the organisation is responsible for running céilí dancing classes and workshops. Affiliated clubs run Fíor-Chéilithe (a night of céilí dancing only) at various intervals throughout the year. The national committee takes responsibility for forming new clubs and assisting them in organising their first course of classes and provides support for the first céilí of a new club. All of the activities of the organisation are held in premises free from alcohol.
Courses and qualifying exams are also organised at various intervals for those who want to qualify as céilí dance teachers. Céilí dance teachers who have already qualified through other organisations and who are available to teach non-competitive céilí dancing are welcome to contact us with a view to teaching for us in their own areas.
The main work of the organisation in with young people in primary and secondary schools. Cairde Rince Céilí na hÉireann runs eight-week courses in primary and secondary schools followed by Fíor-Chéilithe na nÓg for participating schools in each region. Since its formation it has responsible for teaching céilí dancing to over 10,000 children every year. The success of the work of the organisation to date is a sign of hope for the future of our native Irish céilí dancing and Cairde Rince Céilí na hÉireann intends to build on the work already done.
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