Retford: Dancing to a Gaelic tune

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You might think that Bassetlaw is an unlikely place to find a ceilidh.

But the traditional Scottish and Irish informal dance and music gatherings have a growing following in Retford.

The first ceilidh was held in April last year, and they have now become a regular event.

One of the founders Kathy Cowbrough said: “We used to travel to Lincoln ceilidhs but then a few of us decided we ought to set up our own in Retford.”

“We held the first one at Goodwin Hall and 50 people turned up.”

“We had the Liam Robinson Band, he was very supportive when we were setting up.”

Word spread and the ceilidhs, held four times a year, now attract more than 120 people.

“People travel from all over to come to them,” said Kathy.

“We have people from Worksop, Mansfield, Scunthorpe and Lincoln.”

She says the appeal is probably that it’s not formal dancing, and anyone can join in.

People don’t need to bring a partner either.

“There is a caller who calls out the moves at the beginning until people have got the hang of it.”

“But if anyone doesn’t want to dance they can just come along and enjoy the music. We have people who do that.”

They book bands from around the country.

The next one on 19th July at Babworth Road Social Club will feature the Craigendarloch Ceilidh Band from Scotland.

Kathy, 68, of Little Gringley, grew up with ceilidh music in her native Canada.

“My dad was a fiddle player and called for square dancing,” she said.

Her grandfather was Scottish and by coincidence her husband Graeme Law is also Scottish.

They used to live in Stirling and went to ceilidhs regularly with their twins.

Kathy is also a member of Retford morris dancers, but she said the ceilidh dancing was different.

“Morris dancing is more about performing a piece, whereas at a ceilidh everyone is encouraged to take part.”

They are hoping to get some funding to promote the ceilidhs as a way of socialising and keeping active.

They also want to link up with charities so that they can do some fundraising.

They have already raised £200 for the Stroke Association.

Claire Searson, 29, of Queen Street, Retford, said she enjoyed the ceilidhs because they were good fun.

“Its quite good exercise as well, and just a different way to spend an evening,” she said.

“We all have a laugh and muck in together and there are some fantastic bands.”

John Collins, 54, of Smeath Road, Retford, is from an Irish family and grew up attending ceilidhs in people’s homes.

He said: “People in Ireland would have a ceilidh for any family celebration like a christening or communion.”

“The Retford ones are great fun, people just join in and enjoy themselves.”

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