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Seán a Flop’s Dance
Contributed by Peadar Barrett.
Songs describing local people attending dances in country houses were common throughout the country until fairly recent times. They were favoured by local poets as a good opportunity to take a swipe at anyone in the area they did not like or to compliment those they did. Clerical opposition to such dances and the notorious Dance Hall Act of 1936 brought about the demise of the country house dance to a great extent and the songs died away with them.
The saga of Seán a Flop and the strawboys comes from around 1935. It is a good example of a local poet scalding a character whom he obviously did not deem over-generous or welcoming. The subject of his venom was a Seán Queally of Deerpark West [Ennistymon] who lived from about 1875 to 1955.
Strawboys are more usually associated with weddings, but in this song they invade a party being held for some “returned Yanks” with disastrous consequences. The custom of people disguising themselves in straw costumes and going to weddings as uninvited (but usually welcome) guests waned considerably when wedding celebrations moved from the home of the bride to impersonal hotels. Thankfully in recent years the tradition has regained much of its popularity having changed the time of the mysterious visitation from the wedding reception itself to the return of the young couple from their honeymoon.
There was a dance at Seán a Flop’s,
The lads came in their dozens,
At eleven o’clock the hills did
With hob-nailed shoes they marched in
Up to the door they boldly went,
The merry boys said in disguise,
The gallant strawboys rushed for the door,
Then like a top, poor Seán a Flop,
“Go for a cop,” said Seán
He only went out to the door,
The dance did stop at Seán a Flop’s,
“Now Gobbis Devitt, shut your mouth,
Pat Madigan says, “I must go home,
So out he hops from Seán a Flop’s,
The sound of clogs ran through the bogs.
I now conclude with this advice,