Irish Ceilidh Bands

Are you thinking about hiring the Coulan Sona Irish Ceilidh Band? Good stuff! But perhaps you are a little confused by the terms Ceilidh, Ceili or Barn Dance? People are often confused by the names. If you are unsure, find what kind of dance band would be suitable for your wedding or event in your area, by clicking the link to read more details about the band:


A totally traditional Irish band will only play Irish repertoire. Some of the bands listed on the Irish Ceilidh Band pages are like this, others are bands who play a lot of Irish repertoire but can also include a few tunes and dances of other nationalities to give variety. It is worth considering whether a purely Irish band is really what you are wanting. Though it is truly wonderful music, for many events it can be better to have a band that can play a good range of Irish tunes (perhaps not so absolutely in the Irish style) but can also include some other music and dance for variety.


There is usually a cost implication here too. Pure Irish bands tend to be a bit more expensive. Also think about the instruments in the band’s line up. If you go to a Session in a Pub in Ireland, you are likely to find a wide range of instruments being played. But some people have their own ideas of what an Irish band should be like, and there certainly are some instruments that are considered more traditional than others. So, if you have specific requirements (e.g. fiddle or bodhran) let us know when you send your enquiry and we can suggest bands that include what you are wanting in their line-up.

St Patrick’s day celebrations are a major Irish event. We get a lot of enquiries, so please do book early. But there can uncertainty about what is wanted. You need to decide and make clear to us whether you want a St Patrick’s Day Ceilidh, (where guests are going to dance, with a caller, and usually to an instrumental band without a singer). Or do you want instrumental music to listen to, perhaps as background music for a meal. Or do you want an Irish folk singing band, where your guests can join in singing traditional Irish songs? Some Irish Ceilidh bands do have a vocalist who will do a few songs between dances, but many do not. And if you want a folk singing band, then it is usually a completely different band from a Ceilidh band.

The makeup of guests at you wedding or event can have a bearing on the style of Irish Ceilidh Band that would be appropriate. If most of the guests at the Ceilidh are not Irish, a band that does Irish music, but can also throw in a few Scottish or American tunes and dances may give the best option. However, if the guests are mostly Irish, or members of an Irish dance club, then the pure specialist Irish band may be more appropriate. Also remember that your guests are not going to be doing River Dance style step dancing, that takes years to learn. They will be dancing in sets with a caller instructing them in easy to learn dances and perhaps including dances like ‘the Siege of Ennis’ if there are some more experienced dancers there. (Having said that, sometimes there are one or two experienced Irish dancers at an event, and it is not uncommon for the band to play for them to perform a demonstration dance on the night.) 
You will find both kinds of bands on these pages. Browse through them or if you prefer, send an enquiry specifying what you are looking for and we will email you some suggested bands.


People are often confused by the difference between a Ceilidh dance and Barn dance. The truth of the matter is they are basically the same thing. They have a caller who guides the dancers. The music is folk music of various nationalities.

Ceilidh is the Scottish and Irish term, so this includes Scottish Ceilidh Bands and Irish Ceili Bands. (Notice the alternative spelling. Other spellings are Caleigh, Kaley, kaylee, kayleigh etc. so you can't really get it wrong!) The bands would mostly play Celtic folk tunes. Many songs are claimed by the Irish, Scots,English and Americans, but the way of performing them would be different.

Barn Dance ends to be the English and American name, where English or American folk tunes would be played. Having said that, many of the dances are the same for both a Ceilidh dance or a Barn dance.

Many bands perform a range of songs and do dance that suites that are appropriate. This is particularly good for a wedding ceilidh or birthday barn dance, where styles have to be catered for. For an evening such as a Irish St Patricks night, or a Scottish Burns night, then a specialist band would be more appropriate.

The musicians generally get the dance going by playing some music to listen to create the right atmosphere. 

For a Irish Wedding Ceilidh a Irish Ceilidh Band would usually start with a first dance that included the Bride, Groom and friends and relatives. The Caller would ask everyone up to joining the Bride and Groom. (No one cannot do so, as it would be rude). The Caller will choose an uncomplicated first dance, so that even those people who are lacking in confidence find they can do it. This gets the Ceilidh off to a good start. (Some newlyweds choose to do a first dance to a waltz, then ask guests to join them, or else do a prepared dance to music provided by them on a iPod. This also works.)

For an Irish style birthday party Ceilidh or office party, much the same applies. The first dance is usually simple, so that the Caller can determine how much people do or don't know, whether they pick up the instructions quickly, an how active they seem. The guests gain some confidence, and the caller can decide the difficulty of dances that would be appropriate for the evening. 

Irish Ceilidh Bands always have a Caller who teaches the dances, so even people who have not been to a Ceilidh before can enjoy themselves. The Caller invites people to come onto the floor, often not knowing what dance to do until they know how many people have come up. They will explain the dance, running the dancers through the moves slowly. They may run them through all or some of the dance again, depending on how difficult it is and how whether the dancers seem confused still. Then the band play a short introduction and the dancers are off. The caller keeps an eye on what is going on, perhaps calling directions and sorting out dancers who have got muddled up or got lost. It can be very exciting and always great fun.

Usually there is be an interval part way through the Ceilidh for some food, so that people can have a rest and stump up some more energy for the dance. If there are some experienced dancers, the Caller {could include a few more difficult dances for them, but in general they will ensure that everyone is involved and having a good time.

An Irish Ceilidh Band provides an excellent evening for the many Birthday Parties, Wedding Receptions and other functions (such as office parties) that happen in your area. It gets both sides of the family and friends to interact and the volume level is not so high that guests can't still talk to each other - (Unlike when there's a disco on the go!)

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