Scottish and Irish Dance: Irish Boy in Scotland

Figure 1.--

I had a foot in both camps having Irish parents and living in Scotland. Dancing was something we kids had to do. I did Irish Step and Highalnd dancing until I was in my teens. I started at 4 years and danced in kilts until I was about 14. It was lots of fun though you did get teased by some of your friends as you got older. Because we did not have a lot of money my dancing was sponsored by an irsh club and a union. I usually got to wear my sisters old kilts because she was older. I took part in a lot of competition and sometimes won prizes.

Time and Location

I began dancing when I was 4 years old, it would have been 1959. I syayed with it until I was about 14 years old or around 1973-74. We lived in the Glasgow area and also in Belfast for a while.

Getting Started

It was initially my mother's idea. Although we lived in Scotland, she was Irish to the core. I rather liked the idea. It was a lot of fun when I was young. My class had 6 boys and about a dozen girls.


I liked both Irish and Scottish dancing. I really didn't have any preferences. Since they are very different I could manage easily and did get them confused.

The sword dance of course was my favorite dance. I like the swords we used for the dance.


I had different kilts for each type of dancing. They belonged to my older sister originally. The one I used for Irish dancing was plain green. I also had a houndstooth kind of plaid and also some scottish kilts. I outgrew one of them.

When I was very young I wore a kilt with a bodice, white short socks, white blouse or a shirt and matching underwear. They were all my sisters originally. When I was older I wore kilts without a bodice, white shirt and sometimes a green pullover, knee socks which could be green or even tartan and sometimes no socks if it was summer. I wore school underwear to match the colour of my kilt which was always my sisters old stuff. Sometimes I would wear something like a body suit underneath that would be black, it was all one piece. Cant remember what the right name is for it. I wore a sporran as I got older for Highland dancingm but not when I wore the Irish kilt for step dancing.


We would wear a kilt to the event. [HBC note: At Higland Gatherings here in America, boys will wear kilts to the event. At Irish feises the boys only wear their kilts while dancing. HBC is unsure why there is such a difference.]

We did groups, pairs and single. Groups were great fun.


I went to a regular state school. I sometimes wore my kilt to school. I wore it occasionally from about 4 1/2 years up to about 12. More boys wore kilts in primary than in secondary school. This was probably parents had more influence at a young age.

Some other boys also wore kilts. I didn't wear it all the time. Normally I wore the school uniform. It was rather much like others I have read about: grey shirt, grey pants, blazer, and a cap in junior school. Our school required a uniform, but an exception was made for the boys wearing kilts.

Primary school

I would wear the kilt as a stand alone type of thing, but generaly only at Primary school. I did not wear a school cap and blazer with it. Mum mostly determined when I wore my kilt to school, not me. My mother would always lay my clothes out before I was in my teens. We would wear things for several days. Clothes were not cleaned everyday like we do now. My mother would also chose all my clothes. A lot of them would have been bought second hand or may have belonged to my sister like navy jumpers, knee socks and sometimes school knickers for my kilt, vests and pants. It >was cheaper that way a money was tight with us.

We did some dancing in the primary (junior) school. More boys wore their kilts on the days we did dancing. There were others that danced as well. I wasn't a star, but I did allright. Some kids liked dancing very much, but some (mostly boys) didn't like it. I think that many boys thought itvwas girlish. They only wanted to do sports. Because so many boys thought it looked girlish to dance so there was teasing.

Secondary school

I only wore my kilt in Secondary for special occaisions and not after I was about 15 or so. I don't recall school rules about the kilt. School rules were things like no hand in pockets. I don't recall uniform rules because everyone wore uniforms. There were certain things that you had to wear for PT like blue shorts and a "t"-shirt top. If you played on a team you had to have the right "strip" on. That is the tright colour rugby soccer shirt and pants.

Stopped Dancing

I quit dancing when I was about 14 years old. I didn't have enough time and I felt too girlish I think.. Mu friends were teasing about it. They used to call me a sissy sometimes and some of them were pulling on my kilt. Both my Irish and Scottish friends teased me. They usually would say that I was dressing like the "lassies". The girls were fine, but some of my mates were a pain. At any rate, I knew most dances by then and had to give more time to my studies.


I sometimes wore my kilt to parties, but I never really joined in the fun because it was restricting. I also wore it at school off and on. I remember one boy who always wore his and I wore my kilt a lot as well. As I got older, however, I did not want to wear it as much. I would wear it at home though. I like other, wore it because it suited us I think but as I said, as I got older I grew away from it, especially at school. I didn't wear my kilts to school after I quit dancing. I did wear my kilt to church and for other occasions when I dressed up.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: February 11, 2000
Last updated: February 13, 2000