Category Archives: Ceili

The Donna Sheehan Reel

The Donna Sheehan Reel

How do you support a set dancer diagnosed with ALS?   If you are RHC member, Bill Black, you may compose a tune  to “cheer her up a bit as she goes through whatever she’s facing…I figured that, being a set dancer, a reel would do no harm. And I think that’s the title I’ll use for it!,” he said. And so he did.

Listen to it.    Play it.   Dance to it.   Share it.

We’d love to hear your version of it on our Facebook page.

Here’s the audio file and the sheet music.

Bill offers the following comments.

Years ago the great Kerry fiddler Padraig O Keeffe supplied a jig to Breandán Breathnach for his “Ceol Rinnce na hEireann” collection. We know it today as one of the “Kilfenora” jigs but O Keeffe’s name for it was “A Prayer is Better Than a Tune”.

With all due respect to Padraig, I’d like to suggest that “A Tune Can Be a Prayer” might be more appropriate.This is the reason for “Donna Sheehan’s Reel” (aka “A Reel Can Do No Harm”). The idea is that every time it’s played, we keep the lady in mind in the kindest way possible. 

It’s up to the individual musician to decide what degree of spirituality is involved  in this – my own inclination would be to “offer it up” (Catholics will understand this concept immediately!) Other musicians might have different ways of approaching this – as far as I’m concerned any way of showing love for someone they may never know, and of wishing to become part of her struggle, is good.

Music has a spiritual power we don’t always understand. I’m hoping that “Donna Sheehan’s Reel” can generate some of that power for this best of all causes.

Bill Black 2020

Prepared by Maureen Conway, Secretary, and Eileen McClelland, Webmaster

Ceili Mor Under the Tent

Ceili Mor Sunday August 11

As tradition has it in Ireland, set dancing was performed in homes and at crossroads.  While local musicians often played, traveling musicians  were always welcomed.  As a nod to tradition, The Irish Cultural Center of New England in Canton, MA is bringing set dancing and music to their marquee tent on Sunday,  August 11 from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.   Boston Comhaltas musicians will travel from their usual haunt in Watertown, MA to provide the music for the Ceili Mor. All dancers are welcome at this summer event.  Keep the tradition alive.

Click on the image for a printable copy of this flier.

St. Stephen’s Day Ceili

Annual St. Stephen’s Day  Ceili  Dec 26, 2018


As tradition has it in Ireland, St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, is the day the Wren Boys hunt a fake wren (king of the birds in Celtic mythology) and place it on top of a decorated pole. The wren boys or strawboys dress up in masks, straw suits, and colorful clothing and form music bands and parade through towns and villages – and we will gather and dance in Watertown  to keep the tradition alive!

Sally Harney
is hosting the annual
St. Stephen’s Day Ceiliholiday-image-notes

Wednesday, December 26th, 7 PM – 10:30 PM

Canadian-American Hall
202 Arlington Street, Watertown

Donation $15 at the door. 
Refreshments and live music provided.

Sally is and has been the  set dancing instructor for the Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch of the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann for over 35 years .  What drives her is the urge to Keep the Tradition Alive.

There will be tea, coffee and a cash bar, goodies to feast on, and great Irish traditional music live for your listening and dancing pleasure.

Come join in the fun. It’s always a popular event !