The next time you’re at an Irish Festival or a dance competition take a few minutes to look at the dresses that surround you. While the flashy solo dresses will first catch your eye, look to the groups of matching dresses.
Celtic Knots on Irish Dance Dresses
The Celtic knot work on the dresses tells you, at a glance, which school the dancer attends.
The Celtic Revival movement by the Gaelic League to promote Irish culture – including Irish dance, language and sport- in 1893 led to development of Irish dance ‘costumes’ for performance and competition.
Popular Irish dance legend says that each school chose their individual knot from the Book of Kells but according to Dr. John Cullinane, historian for The Irish Dancing Commission in Dublin and author of eleven books on the history of Irish Dance,
“There is no truth at all that schools had to choose Celtic knots from the Book of Kells. None what so ever.
Is There a Purpose of the Celtic Knot on Irish Dance Dresses?
Because each school has their own knot-work dancers can be instantly recognized by their dresses, jackets, or clothes. Think of the school knot as a ‘team emblem’ that shows your pride, loyalty, and support of your school.
The Foy Celtic Knot
The Foy School of Irish Dance knot is a Celtic shield knot. An ancient symbol of protection, this knot was placed near ill people or on battle shields for warding off evil spirits.
If you think about it, this is the perfect knot for wearing into your own ‘battle’ at a Feis!
The shield knot is recognized by its four distinct quadrants or corners.
References if you wish to know more:
The Meaning of Celtic Knot Symbols
The Evolution of Irish Dance Dresses (opinion article)
Order Dr. John Cullinane’s books directly by email: [email protected]
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