History of CRN:



Organized traditional dance groups began in Ireland with the Gaelic League in 1893.  The main objective of the Gaelic League was to reestablish and promote Gaelic, as the primary spoken language of Ireland.  An additional goal was to promote Irish Literature and culture.


With the onslaught of emigration to Europe and the US, the Gaelic League worked with Irish expatriates to establish Irish cultural centers outside Ireland.  Irish people began to congregate at these centers and these gatherings of likeminded friends frequently turned into rousing dance sessions that came to be called “Céilí.”  Historically, Irish people had gathered at crossroads or similar locations, on Sundays, Feast Days or Commemoration days to meet, socialize and dance.  With the advent of the cultural centers people could meet and perform what we know today as “Céilí, set and solo dances”.


In the course of its ongoing work The Gaelic League set up the Governing Board of An Coimisiún (an organization devoted to Irish dance). An Coimisiún was approved by the Gaelic League Congress in 1931 and governed by a group of 24 people.  However, only 3 delegates represented the Dublin Irish Dance Teachers Association with a further 3 delegates representing the Irish Music Society.  The remaining 18 delegates represented various Councils of the Gaelic League.  Such low representation was a concern for many teachers.


Because the Dance Teachers Association felt underrepresented within the organization, in 1968 a large percentage of the Dance Teachers left An Coimisiún and formed An Comhdháil Múinteoirí Na Rince Gaelacha (The Association of Irish Dance Teachers).  As a direct result of this action most of the Dublin dance teachers were now affiliated with An Comhdháil.


It is important to remember that at this time An Comhdháil membership was made up of qualified dance teachers and adjudicators from An Coimisiún. An Comhdháil commenced running open platform dance competitions.  An Coimisiún responded by closing their platform refusing to acknowledge dancers from An Comhdháil.


In 1982, Cumann Rince Náisiúnta (CRN) was established. The twelve (12) founding members were previously affiliated members of An Comhdháil.  The goal of CRN was to establish an organization that had a strong code of ethics for both teachers and competitors.  As part of its mandate, CRN commenced running dancing competitions on an open platform (open to all organizations). An Comhdháil responded by closing their platform thereby replicating the actions of An Coimisiún. To this day CRN is the only professional dance organization that successfully operates an open platform which allows dancers compete in feiseanna regardless of their organization.


CRN is widely known as a traditional dance organization and it has successfully maintained the integrity of traditional dances, while actively encouraging the development of new and innovative work. Great thought was put into considering the developmental levels of students and their capacity to execute new work in solo dances.  To that end five (5) grades/ levels of dance were established.


The introductory level of solo dances (Bun Grad) includes execution of the reel, slip Jig, single jig and light jig as handed down for generations.  These dances have stood the test of time and existed long before the establishment of the Gaelic League in 1893.  Our second level dances (Ullumhuchan), again handed down through the generations, include the double jig and hornpipe.  Collectively these dances, in addition to the six traditional set dances of St. Patrick’s Day, The Blackbird, The Job of Journeywork, The White Blanket and the Humors’ of Bandon, form the foundation of all our solo dances and are compulsory within the organization.  The other grades are Intermediate (Mean Grad), Ard Grad (Open/Higher Grade) and Craobh Grad (Championship Grade).


In an ongoing effort to honor tradition and continually protect the developmental process of children a grading system is in operation in all 5 levels and grades.  This system ensures that appropriate technique is being taught at each level.  It is from the 3rd level up that teachers compose new work, but precautions and safety guidelines continue to be incorporated to insure the welfare and security of our dancers.  Many teachers continue to use the work of Dance Master Ita Cadwell as both a source of inspiration and as appropriate material for championships.


While it is true that all three organizations base their teachers and adjudicators examinations on broadly the same Céilí dances, Cumann Rince Naisiunta has the largest curriculum. The CRN examination requires a thorough knowledge of over 10 levels of reels, slip Jigs, single jigs, double jigs and 9 hornpipes. Additionally, 6 traditional set dances and 15 contemporary set dances complete the requirements.


CRN is very proud of the standard of dance education among its members. This standard was achieved through establishing a compulsory and rigorous teacher-training course and requires two to three years of supervised training in Ireland (foreign students usually complete this curriculum in three or four years).  Candidates pursuing an adjudicator credential must complete an additional two years of supervised study. All candidates are taught by recognized trainers within Cumann Rince Naisiunta.  Additionally, the Examining Panel is required to pursue continuing education to ensure proper and fair marking for all candidates.


CRN is a growing organization celebrating its 28th Anniversary this year (2010).Tomorrow, who will really care how fast we grew? Isn’t it more important to know what we are building with our growth, and why? 


Measuring more is easy; measuring better is hard.Measuring better requires a clear mission, an exciting vision and shared values. Our current dancers will create a world we cannot imagine. They will accomplish things we cannot currently dream. 

Our dancers will make visible what, without them, might never have been seen.