Ceili: A social gathering of traditional Irish/Scottish/Celtic merriment, singing, dancing, and storytelling

“These guys deserve to be heard by the entire world. Ceili Rain music makes your feet want to dance and your soul soar!” – Billboard Magazine

In 1988 I was a junior in college living in London on a semester abroad program. In the especially dark, cold and rainy month of February, British Railways offered a special round trip fare from London to just about anywhere for the equivalent of approximately $25. Round trip. That was all the incentive a friend and I needed to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland in the especially dark, cold, rainy month of February. The train journey took many hours. And in my memory, it was dark out for most of those hours. Maybe we travelled overnight as a way to save even more money on not paying for a hotel. Who knows?! But what I do remember for certain was a woman we met shortly after we arrived. We were walking along looking up, up, up, as one does when one is travelling, and she extended a welcome to her city by way of an invitation to a ceili (kay-lee) that night. We had no idea what she was talking about and were too shy to ask for further explanation. But when she mentioned there would be free food, we asked for and wrote down the address and told her we would definitely see her later that night.

Luckily, the free food part of the invitation fit in perfectly with our especially tight student budget so we made the walk from our very inexpensive hotel/hostel to a place I can barely remember… Was it the upstairs of a municipal building? Were we in a church? Was it someone’s office not being used for the evening? After all these years, it is hard to say. But here are the details I do remember. It was packed. There was, in fact, free food and lots of it. It was a potluck supper, a veritable jackpot for two tired, cold, hungry college kids who found themselves pretty far from home that night. The guests were old and young and everything in between. It was very warm in that happy space. People told jokes, played music, sang songs, danced, read poems and just generally delighted in one another’s company. And it went on for hours. In the course of the evening, most of the people introduced themselves to us and welcomed us and invited us to come back next week. A ceili, I kept repeating to myself, determined not to forget the word for what was happening around us that night because what was happening felt like magic.

Many, many years later, I learned of a band called Ceili Rain; Auburn Public Theater is delighted to host them here on Friday night for so many reasons, most importantly for how they live up to the magic in their name. But don’t take my word for it. Come down and see and hear and feel the magic for yourself…

CLICK HERE to get your tickets for this Friday, Nov 11!