CAVAN SET - Traditional Version

Newcastle Irish Set Dancers was first introduced to this dance by Patrick O'Dea, set dance instructor from the UK. Other published instructions for this dance may differ slightly. Other sources include Pat Murphy's "Toss the Feathers" and Tom Quinn's "Irish Dances".

A modern version of the Cavan Set is also danced where the five separate figures given here are combined into two longer figures. Instructions are contained in Cavan Set - Modern Version. In the modern version Figures 1, 2 and 4 of the Traditional version are combined to make the modern Figure 1, and Figures 3 and 5 of the Traditional Version are combined to make the modern Figure 2.

First Sides to the LeftFormation

Square Set of four couples, Gents on the left of their partners. First Top Couple have their backs to the band, with Second Tops opposite them. First Sides Couple are on the right of First Top Couple (when facing into the set) and Second Side Couple are opposite them.


FIGURE 1: REEL (88 BARS) - Arches

All Couples

Top Couples advance and retire once (right hand in right) while Side Couples dance in place (right hand in right) [4 bars], then Side Couples advance and retire while Top Couples dance in place [4 bars]

8 bars

All Couples

Swing in ceili hold [6 bars] + Dance in place facing into the set [2 bars]

8 bars

Top Couples

Advance and retire once (right hand in right) + Advance - 1st Top Couple make an arch / 2nd Top Couple pass under with Lady leading then turning anti-clockwise under partner's right arm while 1st Top Couple cross right shoulder to right into opposite position (Lady turning anti-clockwise under partner's right arm)
Repeat - 2nd Top Couple make the arch and 1st Top Couple pass under

16 bars

Top Couples [+
Side Couples]

Swing in ceili hold [6 bars] + Dance in place [2 bars]
Side Couples dance in place for last 2 bars

8 bars

Side Couples

Advance and retire + Advance - 1st Side Couple make an arch / 2nd Side Couple pass under and turn Lady anticlockwise to opposite place while 1st Side Couple cross right shoulder to right into opposite place
Repeat - 2nd Side Couple make the arch and 1st Side Couple pass under

16 bars

Side Couples [+
Top Couples]

Swing in ceili hold [6 bars] + Dance in place [2 bars]
Top Couples dance in place for last 2 bars

8 bars

All Couples

Right hand in right - Top Couples advance and retire once while Side Couples dance in place [4 bars] + Side Couples advance and retire while Top Couples dance in place [4 bars] + Swing (ceili hold) [6 bars] + Dance in place [2 bars]

16 bars

FIGURE 2: REEL (72 BARS) - Ladies Chain

All Couples

Right hand in right - Top Couples advance and retire once while Side Couples dance in place, then Side Couples advance and retire while Top Couples dance in place

8 bars

All Couples

Swing in ceili hold [6 bars] + Dance in place [2 bars]

8 bars

Top Couples

Ladies chain - give right hands in the centre + left to opposite Gent (who remains facing into the set) and turn under his left arm then pass behind Gent and back to their own partner giving right hands on the way back

8 bars

Top Couples [+
Side Couples]

House around each other in waltz hold
Side Couples dance in place for last 2 bars

8 bars

Side Couples

Ladies chain + House around each other
Top Couples dance in place for last 2 bars

16 bars
All Couples

Right hand in right - Top Couples advance and retire while Side Couples dance in place + Side Couples advance and retire while Top Couples dance in place + Swing (ceili hold) + Dance in place

16 bars

FIGURE 3: REEL (120 BARS) - Scissors

All Couples

Right hand in right - Tops advance and retire / Sides dance in place + Sides advance and retire / Tops dance in place + Swing (ceili hold) + Dance in place

16 bars

1st Top Gent +
2nd Top Lady

Cross to opposite place (right shoulder to right) [2 bars] + Turn clockwise to face back [2 bars] + Cross passing right shoulder to right [2 bars] + Turn anticlockwise to face each other in the centre after passing [2 bars]

8 bars

1st Top Gent +
2nd Top Lady
Swing in ceili hold in the centre [6 bars] + Retire to place [2 bars]
Partners dance in place for the last 2 bars

8 bars

2nd Top Gent +
1st Top Lady

Cross (right shoulders) to opposite place + Turn clockwise + Cross passing right shoulders + Turn anticlockwise to face each other in the centre + Swing + Retire to place

16 bars

Top Couples [+
Side Couples]

House around each other in waltz hold
Side Couples dance in place for last 2 bars

8 bars

1st Side Gent +
2nd Side Lady

Cross to opposite place + Turn + Cross back + Turn to face each other + Swing + Retire
Partners dance in place for the last 2 bars

16 bars

1st Side Lady +
2nd Side Gent

Cross to opposite place + Turn + Cross back + Turn to face each other + Swing + Retire

16 bars

Side Couples

House around each other in waltz hold
Top Couples dance in place for last 2 bars

8 bars

All Couples

Right hand in right - Tops advance and retire / Sides dance in place + Sides advance and retire / Tops dance in place + Swing + Dance in place

16 bars

FIGURE 4: REEL (88 BARS) - Wheelbarrows

All Couples

Circle - Advance and retire twice [8 bars] + Swing [6 bars] + Dance in place [2 bars]

16 bars

Top Couples

Wheelbarrow Part 1: Advance and retire once (right hand in right) [4 bars] + Advance [2 bars] + 2nd Top Gent takes 1st Top Lady's left hand and group of three retire to 2nd Tops' place + Gent pulls both Ladies in turning them around beside him to face into the set placing joined hands over their shoulders [2 bars] while 1st Top Gent retires to place

8 bars

Top Couples

Wheelbarrow Part 2: All advance [2 bars] + 1st Top Gent takes Ladies' spare hands and turns them around beside him to place hands over Ladies' shoulders as they retire to 1st Tops' place [2 bars] while 2nd Top Gent retires to place [2 bars] + All advance to the centre, 1st Top Gent turns Ladies out and around to form a circle in the centre [2 bars] + Form a basket by Gents bring their hands over the Ladies' heads [1 bar] and Ladies bringing their hands over to the Gents' shoulders [1 bar]

8 bars

Top Couples

Basket left (Ladies' hands on Gents' shoulders) [6 bars] + Reverse to place [2 bars]

8 bars

Side Couples

Wheelbarrow Part 1: Advance + Retire + Advance + 1st Side Lady join 2nd Side Couple - Retire and Turn Ladies

8 bars

Side Couples Wheelbarrow Part 2: Advance + Turn Ladies over to 1st Side Gent and retire + Advance and form basket

8 bars

Side Couples

Basket + Reverse to place

8 bars

All Couples

Circle - Advance and retire twice + Swing in ceili hold + Dance in place

16 bars

FIGURE 5: REEL (120 BARS) - Train + Doubles

All Couples

Circle - Advance and retire twice + Swing + Dance in place

16 bars

Top Couples
   "Trains"

Advance and retire once (right hand in right), during retire Gent pulls partner around so right hands are joined over the Lady's right shoulder [4 bars] + Cross anticlockwise and turn while bringing right hands over the Lady's head to face into the set in the opposite place [4 bars]
Repeat back to place [8 bars] + Swing [6 bars] + Dance in place [2 bars]

24 bars

Side Couples
   "Trains"

Advance, retire and Gents turn partner + Cross to opposite place
Repeat back to place + Swing + Dance in place

24 bars

Top Couples
   "Doubles"

Pass through (Ladies in the middle) and all turn clockwise to face back + Pass back with (Gents in the middle)

8 bars

Side Couples
   "Doubles"

Pass through (Ladies in the middle) and all turn clockwise to face back + Pass back with (Gents in the middle)

8 bars

All Corners +
Partners

Ladies turn right / Gents left to face corner - "Yell" and dance in place [4 bars] + Turn back to partner - "Yell" and dance in place [4 bars]

8 bars

All Couples

Swing [6 bars] + Dance in place [2 bars]

8 bars

All Couples

Circle - Advance and retire twice + Swing in ceili hold + Dance in place

16 bars

     
 

An alternative "Doubles" is:

1st Tops split and pass around 2nd Tops to opposite place + 1st Tops turn toward partner / 2nd Tops turn away from partner - to face across the set + 1st Tops pass through the middle / 2nd Tops around 1st Tops to place

 

8 bars

Notes

When Sides or Tops are standing, but about to dance, they should dance the last two bars in place facing into the set [bars 7-8]. Both Couples dance in place during bars 7-8 of the introduction for each figure.

All swings should be for 6 bars with the last two bars danced in place facing into the set [bars 7-8].

  • The Gents turn the Ladies and place their hand over the Ladies' shoulder(s) in a number of places in Figures 4 and 5. The Gents turn their partners in the "Wheelbarrow" movements in Figure 4 and the "Trains" movement in Figure 5. For this partners start with rights hands joined in front then the Gent pulls the Lady toward him turning her anticlockwise a full turn bringing his right hand over her right shoulder while still holding her hand.
  • The Gents turn their opposite Lady in the "Wheelbarrow" movements in Figure 4. The Gents and his opposite Lady start with left hands joined in front. He pulls her toward him turning her clockwise bringing his left hand over her left shoulder while still holding her hand.

REFERENCES

Murphy, Pat (1995). Toss the Feathers. Mercier Press: Cork. 88-89.

Quinn, Tom (1997). Irish Dancing. HarperCollins: Glasgow. 105-107.


Updated: 13 October 2001