Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Mairi's Wedding

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

MAIRI'S WEDDING (R8x40) 3C (4C set) James B. Cosh 22 SCDs

1- 8 1s turn RH and cast to 2nd place, 1s turn LH to face 1st corners
9-16 1s dance ½ diagonal reel of 4 with 1st corners, 1s dance ½ diagonal reel with 2nd corners
17-24 1s dance ½ diagonal reel with 3rd corner (pstns), ½ diagonal reel with 4th corner (pstns)
25-32 1s dance reel of 3 across (Lady with 2s, Man with 3s - LSh to 1st corner)
33-40 2s+1s+3s circle 6H round and back. 213

(MINICRIB, Dance Crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)


Mairi's Wedding
James B. Cosh   22 Scottish Country Dances (and 2 more)
Reel   8 x 40 bars   3 Couple Repeat   4 Couple Set   Lengthwise Set

  1-4   1s turn by the right and cast;

  5-8   1s turn by the left to face 1st corners;

  9-12 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with first corners;

13-16 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with second corners;

17-20 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with first corners (in partner's corner's position);

21-24 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with second corners (in partner's corner's position);

25-32 2s1L 1M3s reels of 3 across, 1s giving left shoulder to first corners to start;

33-40 2s1s3s 6 hands round and back.

(MAXICRIB, Scottish country dancing instructions compiled by Reuben Freemantle)

Dance Notes

  1-2   A quick turn (RSCDS style) or elbow grip.

  3-4   2s step up by going diagonally inward and then outward.

  5-8   A slow, long arm turn, not elbow grip.

  9-24 1s officially pass giving left shoulder between the half reels but right shoulder is more usual (see Mairi's Wedding Reels for the deviser's view).

33-40 Just for fun, socially, keep the hands round going to the left on the last repeat and finish with a "hooch".


Mairi's Wedding (3-couple version)
James B. Cosh   22 Scottish Country Dances (and 2 more)
Reel   3 x 40 bars   3 Couple Repeat   3 Couple Set   Lengthwise Set

  1-2   1s turn by the right;

  3-4   1s cast;

  5-8   1s turn by the left to face 1st corners;

  9-12 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with first corners;

13-16 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with second corners;

17-20 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with first corners (in partner's corner's position);

21-24 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with second corners (in partner's corner's position);

25-32 2s1L 1M3s reels of 3 across, 1s giving left shoulder to first corners to start;

33-40 2s1s3s 6 hands round and back.

(MAXICRIB, Scottish country dancing instructions compiled by Reuben Freemantle)

Dance Notes

This is a simple adaptation of the 4-couple dance for 3 couples.

  1-2   1s make a quick turn (RSCDS style) or elbow grip.
The following is the modification for 3 couples at the beginning of the second and third repeats: the former 3s step up to become the new 2s WHILE the former 1s cast to 3rd place.

  3-4   2s step up by going diagonally inward and then outward.

  5-8   A slow, long arm turn, not elbow grip.

  9-24 1s officially pass giving left shoulder between the half reels but right shoulder is more usual.

33-40 This is the modification for 3 couples at the end of the first and second repeats: 1s finish ready to cast.
If this is the final repeat in a display, or just for fun, socially, keep the hands round going to the left on the last repeat and finish with a "hooch".


Mairi's Wedding (alternative 3-couple version)
James B. Cosh   22 Scottish Country Dances (and 2 more)
Reel   3 x 40 bars   3 Couple Repeat   3 Couple Set   Lengthwise Set

  1-2   1s turn by the right;

  3-4   1s cast;

  5-8   1s turn by the left to face 1st corners;

  9-12 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with first corners;

13-16 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with second corners;

17-20 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with first corners (in partner's corner's position);

21-24 1s half diagonal reel of 4 with second corners (in partner's corner's position);

25-30 2s1L 1M3s reels of 3 across, 1s giving left shoulder to first corners to start, 2s finishing in 1st place, 3s in 3rd place facing out, 1s on the centre line, 1L above 1M;

30-32 3s cast up to 2nd place WHILE 1s turn by the left to finish facing up, nearer hands joined, in the centre in 3rd place;

33-40 2s3s1s 6 hands round and back.

(MAXICRIB, Scottish country dancing instructions compiled by Reuben Freemantle)

Dance Notes

This is a more elegant adaptation of the 4-couple dance for 3 couples.

  1-2   1s make a quick turn (RSCDS style) or elbow grip.

  3-4   2s step up by going diagonally inward and then outward.

  5-8   A slow, long arm turn, not elbow grip.

  9-24 1s officially pass giving left shoulder between the half reels but right shoulder is more usual.

25-32 This is the modification for 3 couples; the reels are completed in 6 bars leaving 2 bars for the progression to interchange 3s and 1s before the hands round and back.

33-40 If this is the final repeat in a display, or just for fun, socially, keep the hands round going to the left on the last repeat and finish with a "hooch".


Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams


Dance Instruction Videos

Mairi's Wedding - YouTube Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

The title of this dance, Mairi's Wedding, comes from Mairi's Wedding - Song, a very catchy, popular song with an interesting story.

Originally written in Gaelic by Johnny Bannerman in 1935 to honour Mary MacNiven for winning the gold medal at the National Mòd (the main festival of Scottish Gaelic literature, song, arts and culture).

Bannerman's song was based on a much older Gaelic song by the Scots poet Duncan Ban MacIntyre (1724 - 1812) as a love-song to his wife Mairi who seems to have been an ideal spouse besides being a fine distiller of whisky! MacIntyre was a simple, illiterate man of the hills; his many poems were written down by the Rev. Donald MacNicol.

In 1936 Sir Hugh Stevenson Roberton (who had collaborated with John R. Bannerman on other songs) wrote the English words for "Mairi's Wedding", which bore little resemblance to Bannerman's original, and presented an original signed copy of his score to Mary MacNiven (who didn't in fact marry her husband, John Campbell, until 6 years later...).

The actual dance was not devised until much later (1959) by James B. Cosh from Glasgow, another prolific dance deviser with over 40 dances to his name.

Mary Connel MacNiven (1905-1997) was born in Portnahaven, isle of Islay, in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland. She moved to Glasgow while young, sang with the St Columba Gaelic church choir, was a member of the Glasgow Musical Association and in 1934 won the gold medal at the national mod in Oban. Mary married John Campbell, a sea captain from Glendale in Skye in 1940. When John retired they both went to live at Portnahaven.

Mary MacNiven Singing In The Portnahaven Hotel - YouTube Scottish Song Video


Mairi's Wedding Song Video

Mairi's Wedding Song - YouTube Scottish Song Video
Portnahaven Bay Image
Portnahaven Bay, Islay


Dance information by Sir Christopher MacRae, KCMG.
Dance Information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Text from this original Mairi's Wedding article on Wikipedia.
Image Copyright John Allan under this Creative Commons Licence.
Additional search terms: Mairis, mhairis, maris, marie's.

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