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Ceilidhs
Geoff Grainger
Last updated: 09.07.18
According to The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, a Ceilidh is an informal gathering for conversation, music, songs, and stories. The word itself comes from Gaelic. Ceilidhs are particularly popular in Ireland, Scotland and the British armed forces, but also in the entire English-speaking world, where the Celts have exercised their not insignificant influence.
I myself met and loved Ceilidhs when joining 23 Petty Officers Mess aboard HMS Victorious while serving in the Royal Navy in 1963. Every Wednesday during the evening watch the mess held a "Ceilidh" during which all off-duty members were expected to take their turn. Sometimes other messes were invited to join in. Most of the contributions were, as one might expect, of a ribald nature but an occasional folk song or popular ballad might also be performed. Those were the "Celidhs" that started off my passion to collect folk songs.
Fast-forward to May 1993 when instead of holding a Birthday Party I organised my first Vegesacker Ceililh. As I was the only one who knew what it was all about I did not know how my German friends would react. Music was made, songs were sung, tales were told and even one lass juggled. and all went very well indeed!
At that time I thought it would be a nostalgic one-off but as each May came around my friends would ask when was the next Ceilidh. This carried on for some 10 years culminating in my final Ceilidh under the patronage of Bremen's Mayor, Dr. Henning Scherf, at the Gustav-Heinemann Burgerhaus in Bremen-Vegesack. Happy Memories indeed!!

Geoff Grainger, Sheffield, May 2018

Private Ceilidh, Vegesack, April 13th 2003

All the below photos were taken by and are © 2003 of Manfred Eichholz

Ceilidh 2003, Part 1

All the below photos were taken by and are © 2003 of Manfred Eichholz

Ceilidh 2003, Part 2

All the below photos were taken by and are © 2003 of Manfred Eichholz

Ceilidh 2003, Part 3, Ceilidh Pur

All the below photos were taken by and are © 2003 of Manfred Eichholz

Ceilidh 2003, Part 3, The Long Farewell

All the below photos were taken by and are © 2003 of Manfred Eichholz

Ceilidh Links

The following Ceilidh links also give a lot of interesting information.
  • Ceilidh Bands, by Ceilidh Bands UK
  • Ceilidh Culture, from Cape Breton Island, Canada
  • Ceilidh Dates, by Peter Saunders
  • Ceilidh Review, by Ceilidh Revue Celtic Performing Guild
  • What is English Ceilidh?, by Martin Kiff