Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Nighean Donn

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

NIGHEAN DONN (R5x32) 5C set Peter Hastings 1988 Dunedin Dances Book 2

1- 8 2s and 4s dance ½ Figs of 8 round end couples to face 1st corners, set to corners and set to 2nd corners
9-16 2s and 4s dance diagonal reels of 4 with 2nd corners, 2s and 4s end passing partner RSh to opposite sides
17-24 All Adv&Ret, top 4 Men's side cross diagonally RH with bottom 4 Ladies' side, top 4 Ladies' side cross diag LH with bottom 4 Men's side
25-32 Top 4 Men's side cross diagonally RH with bottom 4 Ladies' side, top 4 on Ladies' side cross diagonally LH with bottom 4 on Men's side and end with couples (with new partners) in 2nd and 4th places turning RH 1½ times to own sides
Ladies' side 5L,3L,4L,1L,2L
Men's side 4M,5M,2M,3M,1M
Repeat with new partners

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


Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams


Dance Information

The dance, then untitled, was first performed at the 21st birthday party of Gwendoline Margaret Watson. The title is in honour not only of Gwendy but of brown-haired lassies everywhere.

"Nighean Donn" in Gaelic means "Brown-haired Girl" and is the subject at least two traditional Gaelic love songs, An Cluinn Thu Mi Mo Nighean Donn and Horo Mo Nighean Donn Bhòidheach .

Ho Rò Mo Nighean Donn Bhòidheach (Chorus)
Gaelic VersionEnglishTranslation
Ho rò mo nighean donn bhòidheachHoro my pretty brown-haired girl
Nan gorm-shùil meallachWith the enticing blue eyes
'S truagh nach robh sinn còmhlaIf only we could be together
Ged bhitheamaid falamhThough we had nothing
O mo nighean donn bhòidheachOh my pretty brown-haired girl
Nan gorm-shùil meallachWith the enticing blue eyes

An cluinn thu mi, mo nighean donn? (Chorus)
Gaelic VersionEnglishTranslation
An cluinn thu mi, mo nighean donn?Will you listen to me, my brown-haired girl?
Dèan éisd is thoir an aire dhomhListen, and pay attention to me
Tha móran dhaoin' 's a' bharail seoThere are many people of this opinion
Gur òg an leannan domhs' thuThat you are too young a love for me

In stricter modern Gaelic it should be "Nighean Dhonn". "Nighean Donn" is pronounced as "Nee~n Doun" in English, with stress on the first syllable of "Nighean"; "Nighean Dhonn" and would be "Nee~n Dhoun" where:
  "ee" is as in "beet";
  "~" represents the very short, indeterminate, vowel sound;
  "ou" is as in "loud"; and
  "dh" is as a more guttural form of ch in "loch".
See Gaelic Dance Names for more information on Gaelic spelling and pronunciation.


Nighean Donn Song Video

Nighean Donn Song - YouTube Scottish Song Video
Nighean Donn Brown-haired Girl Image
Nighean Donn - Brown-haired Girl


LearnGaelic - Dictionary Translate Gaelic To English
Dance Information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Image Copyright Nevit Dilmen.
Additional search terms: Brown Haired Girl.

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