The ‘Dublin Gaities’ and ‘a tidy family party’: Dancing at Castletown House

The Conollys of Castletown House in Cellbridge, near Dublin, were a typical example of the Protestant Anglo-Irish families who regularly moved between England and Ireland and who formed part of the powerful nucleus of Dublin society. When such wealthy landowners were not abroad attending theatres balls or parties they were entertaining at home.

Castletown House was approximately two hours carriage drive outside the city and the Conollys, unlike many of their neighbours, preferred to entertain at their Palladian home whenever possible. Like all landed gentry, they considered the hosting of influential guests and the provision of various ways to divert and entertain them throughout their stay to be a vital requisite for social success.  Louisa  Conolly,  like  her  mother-in-law  Katherine  Conolly  before her, was acknowledged as one the most hospitable hostesses of her era. Louisa provided an array of events featuring music and dance at her Dublin 'palace'- events which brought her both fame and, more intriguingly, censure!

This paper will explore the opportunities for dancing not only in  the  city  but  in  the private houses of Dublin, and the role which dance professionals played in this context.

Mary Collins is an early dance specialist of international repute. She works with dance, theatre and TV companies as an adviser, choreographer, dancer and actress and tours regularly giving master-classes, lecture-recitals and workshops. A faculty member of AestasMusica in Croatia and The Ringve International Summer Course in Norway, she works with many of the world’s leading exponents of early music. Mary revives original choreography and gesture  for  historical  performance.  Credits  include  productions  by   Purcell,   Blow, Charpentier,   Cavalieri, Rebel, Rameau and Gluck. Mary teaches at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music in London, also at the University of Birmingham. Outside the UK she has given concerts and courses in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, South Korea, Romania, USA and Brazil. In Romania, Mary also inspired and helped create the Orange Young Musician Award to find and promote young musical talent throughout the country. She has presented several programmes on early dance and its music for TV, and includes projects for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The National Trust, English Heritage, and The British Museum, and a forthcoming collaboration with the Irish Baroque Orchestra.

Mary Collins
Symposium Title: 
Dancing for Anniversaries and Occasions: Chamber, Court, Theatre & Assembly 2015
Author affiliation: 
Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music