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 (2s step up); 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 (positions), ½ diagonal reel with 4th corner (positions)
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 Longwise 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".

Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams

Dance Instruction Videos

Mairi's Wedding - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

Also see two derivative dances Mairi's Wedding (3-Couple Version) by James B. Cosh, adapted for 3 couples by Reuben Freemantle.

This is one of the most popular Scottish country dances. It has been in the top ten most frequent dances appearing on dance programmes, for decades.

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, in 1941...).

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.

(Dance information by Sir Christopher MacRae, KCMG)

Mary MacNiven Singing In The Portnahaven Hotel - Information Video

Mairi's Wedding Song - Information Video

Portnahaven Bay
Portnahaven Bay, Islay

Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Mairi's Wedding article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright John Allan under this Creative Commons Licence 2.0.
Additional search terms: Mairis, mhairis, maris, marie's.

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