Forget house chores… In Ireland, brooms are for dancing. The Emerald Isle is famed for its traditional Irish dancing – but there’s more to it than the iconic Riverdance. We dive into the world of the broom dance and find out how you can bring the craic on your next trip to Ireland.
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What is the broom dance?
The broom dance (or the brush dance) is a traditional Sean Nós Irish dance that’s been around for over a century. It involves jumping over a broom in rhythmic steps to traditional Irish music, like harps and fiddles.
While it’s very entertaining, it’s much harder than it looks. As the dance goes on, the dancer picks up the broom and continues to high-leg it over the handle or swing the broom under each leg. The intricate footwork is amazing to watch.
Broom dancing can be performed in small groups or by solo dancers. While it was traditionally performed at celebrations, it can be competitive! Some Irish families hold a wedding tradition where the groom and the bride’s father step over the broom until one of them dropped the broom or gave up.
You can watch Trafalgar’s Travel Directors Allie and Peter performing the Irish broom dance on tour for Trafalgar guests. Restrictions on music indoors had finally lifted, so they were able to enjoy a song and dance for the first time in 18 months – and they brought the house down!
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How did the broom dance originate in Ireland?
There are many stories in Irish dance history about how the broom dance came about. Some say that travelling people performed the dance as they went door to door selling their wares, like brooms, pots and tools. Putting on the dance would draw attention and more sales.
Others say that it originated at a time when men outnumbered women and the men had to practice their dancing skills using a broom as a partner. They would go to the local dance to put on a show, hoping to attract the attention of a lady! Another version says that it started with women dancing around their brooms as a welcome break from their daily housework.
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How to experience broom dancing in Ireland
While we’re not completely sure how broom dancing started, we know exactly where you can see it in Ireland today!
When you travel on Trafalgar’s Ireland tours, you never know when a broom dance might happen. Our Travel Directors love to break out into dance whenever they get a chance. We also know that the folks at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park (where we visit on our Ireland tours) love to throw Irish evenings. You’ll see them performing traditional dances like broom dancing.
You’ll also have plenty of special experiences on our Ireland tours like an Irish Ceilidh Evening or a Medieval Castle Banquet. This is where you can indulge in Irish food, sing along to Irish tunes, and watch traditional Irish dancing… And maybe even spot a broom dance or two!
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Have you ever seen Ireland’s traditional broom dance? Let us know in the comments below!