Francis Roche Memorial Lecture

Wednesday June 27th, 5pm

The 2018 Francis Roche Memorial Lecture will be delivered by former Blas Directors Dr. Orfhlaith Ni Bhriain and Mick McCabe. This lecture is open to the public and takes place in the Tower Theatre, Irish World Academy Building. Admission is free (saor in aisce).


NiBhriain and McCabe book

Recall: From Jigs to Jacobites – Set Dances as a Historical Record

This lecture will present research from the book, Recall: From Jigs to Jacobites. It will trace a narrative of set dances, their titles, composition, collection, dance choreography, and performance to the present day.

About the Book:

Recall: From Jigs to Jacobites is a new book that explores 4000 years of Irish history through the eyes of 40 traditional set dances. Set dances are a distinct repertoire of Irish traditional music and dance.

Within dance, many set dances are living transmissions of exact steps, danced to specific set dance tunes from the time of the dancing masters to the present. Within music, the very same tunes have been used by master musicians as showpieces in competition, performance and recordings. Yet, in the modern day, many Irish dancers compete with set dance showpieces at the highest level of competition but are unaware of the history or context behind the tune of their choice. The same is true of musicians.

Each set dance has a history to it, be it the origin of the tune itself, who has danced it, who composed it, who published it, or the story behind its title. Like the titles of tunes throughout the Irish tradition, the titles of set dances reflect the socio-economic conditions, the wars, the victors and losers of the time they originated. We have used these titles to carve a unique path through Irish history.

In Recall: From Jigs to Jacobites, each set dance title is beautifully illustrated, its story engagingly told and the music notation provided. Set dances are a unique touch point between past and present, between traditional musician and dancer and in this book, we bring it all together.




Orfhlaith NiBhriain Orfhlaith Ní Bhriain

Orfhlaith Ní Bhriain lectures on the BA in Irish Music and Dance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. In 1998 she completed a Masters in Ethnochoreology at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. In 2010 Orfhlaith completed her doctoral thesis at the University of Limerick. Her research interests include, Irish Dance among the Diaspora and examining creative processes in the context of Competitive Irish Solo Step Dance. She is a registered Irish Dance teacher T.C.R.G. and adjudicator A.D.C.R.G. with An Coimisiún le Rinci Gaelacha. She has traveled extensively to workshops and Step Dance Competitions throughout Europe and North America as a tutor from the renowned Scoil Rince Ui Ruairc and dance accompanist. Recently she completed a residency at Williams College MA where she was employed as guest artist in dance. Orfhlaith is a former Co-Director of Blas International Summer School of Traditional Irish Music and Dance held at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and is Dance Co-ordinator on the BA programme. She is currently vice- chair person of Dance Research Forum Ireland and Treasurer of I.C.T.M. Ireland. She has authored a book entitled The Terminology of Irish Dance.

Cuireann sí spéis freisin in imeachtaí a bhaineann leis an nGaeilge agus i ngach gné de chultúr na hÉireann.






Mick McCabe

Mick McCabe

Mick McCabe is a traditional Irish flute player, graphic designer and illustrator. He grew up within the traditional music scene in the North of England, learning his music from the renowned local teacher, Billy Greenall. He was a long-time member of the Castlemore Ceili Band. He holds an MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance from the University of Limerick. He has performed as part of numerous groups at festivals including Milwaukee Irish Fest and Lorient Interceltic Festival. Mick has taught tin whistle and flute in many Comhaltas branches and at the Irish World Academy, University of Limerick. Mick was co-director of the Blas International Summer School for Irish Music and Dance with Dr Orfhlaith Ni Bhrian for three years. In recent years Mick’s focus has moved from music to design, studying and pursuing a career in graphic design. Mick is a Lead Designer for American education publisher, HMH, concentrating on interaction and graphic design for digital school books. Mick also freelances as an illustrator and designer and has designed album covers for traditional musicians, illustrated a children’s book with author Kitty K and has recently completed a unique traditional music and dance history book, Recall: From Jigs to Jacobites, with Dr Orfhlaith Ni Bhrian.








2017 – Dr. Helen Lawlor: “Come Summer, Come Winter, from the Mouth of Harps”: The Irish Harp in Myth, Poetry and Music
2016 – Dr Ryan Molloy: “Traditional Contemporary Music – Conflicts of Influence”
2015 – Dermot McLaughlin: “A Soundscape of the Donegal Fiddle – a response to the challenges of defining a regional style”
2014 – Toner Quinn: “The Thin Green Line: In Writing About Irish Traditional Music”
2013 – Professor Breandán Ó Madagáin: “The Elemental function of music and magic in the Gaelic tradition of Ireland and Scotland”
2012 – Dr Mel Mercier: “Making Music Together: Father and Son Duets”
2011 – Dr Breandán de Gallaí: “Noċtú: Irish Dance Laid Bare”
2010 – Paul Brady: “From Holyrood to Hooba Dooba: My Life in Music”
2008 – Dr Matt Cranitch: Learning and Teaching ‘Outside the Tradition”