Preface

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FEIS HANDBOOK

Preface by Gerry Campbell

 

The revival of Irish identity and nationality was so rapid and engulfing in the early 60’s that not only did the popularity of the Feis spread throughout North America but also the popularity of everything associated with Ireland. Apart from the enjoyment of the undoubted quality and beauty of Irish dancing, music and song, was the day of the Feis itself. It brought the family together and gave them an opportunity to greet old friends and meet new ones.

The new Feiseanna which were appearing in several communities brought about the necessity of formal guidelines in the rudiments and principles of running a Feis. Phone calls and letters were coming to me from places I never heard of, all asking the same questions -- How do I do this? How do I do that? Will you come the day of the Feis and help? The questions went on and on. Even though I enjoyed helping and sending out the information, the time had come to put it all together in some sort of manual that would assist new Feiseanna in organizing a Feis and avoiding the many pitfalls which they would encounter.

The handbook as it is today is the result of many years of observing Feiseanna. It is not the intention of the writer to curtail the initiative and imagination of the Feis committees from vigorously exploring new ideas to make the Feis more complete and entertaining. I strongly recommend, though, that the principles of the Feis from which it originated should always depict the traditional culture of Ireland and should never deviate one iota from those principles.

A book like this is never complete (1995 is the eighth revision). Any suggestions you can make will be appreciated because to me, the Feis, when run properly with dignity and respect, engulfing more of the Irish arts than just dancing, is the greatest of all Irish activities.

I will always treasure the wonderful people my family and I have met over the years through the medium of the Feis. They are the finest people in the world who enjoy giving of themselves and their families to spread the culture of Ireland to the people who found their identity and rediscovered the traditions of their forefathers. The men and women who promote the Feis have reached out far beyond the ordinary person. They dared to venture where few have trod.

The NAFC, which was organized in 1968, has become a household word among the people interested in Irish culture. Its reputation as an authority on how a Feis should be conducted is worthy of all involved and especially of Bob Gabor who had the foresight to bring us all together in Albany for that memorable first meeting. The Commission has exceeded all the expectations ever dreamed of by its founding fathers. No stone has been left unturned to make the Feis what it is today -- the only place where one can see and enjoy the beauty of authentic Irish culture.

 

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