Irish Dance Costumes

Cyril Benson, Limerick, ca. 1940’s

Cyril Benson - P100812 watermarked

This photograph of Cyril Benson from Limerick was at display at the former Frank McCourt Museum in Limerick, which sadly closed its gates at the end of October 2019.

One of my most vivid memories from Frank’s book ‘Angela’s Ashes’ was the tales of when he and his brother (or was it his friend?) were sent to Irish dancing lessons. The details I remember were that they were given money to bring to class, but they’d go to the cinema instead. Upon getting back home and having to answer to Angela, the mother, which dances they did learn that day, they would make up names of céili dances such as the ‘Siege of Dublin’ or ‘the Walls of Cork’ or something similar, which would resemble the name of a dance that already existed, but swapping the names of the cities.

Another thing I remember of that story was how Frank disliked this one young boy from the dancing school, because he was so good and was always asked by the dance teacher to demonstrate the dancing, whereupon the medals he wore to dance class made a lot of clicking sounds. I remember being confused at that description, because I pictured him wearing the medals on ribbons around his neck, just like I had experienced it myself in the continent at feiseanna. It was much later that I found out that the medals won back then would usually be sewn on the costumes.

I don’t own the rights of the original photograph, nor do I intend to plagiarize it. My sole purpose of sharing it here is to share the beauty of costume heritage on this website.

 

Photo Credit:

  • Original photograph: unknown
  • Photograph of photograph: © S.S.K. Marbach, 2019

If you have any information about the original photographer, do let me know please.

(2020-006)

 

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