The Irish Jig

Artist(s) : Daniel Maclise (Draughtsman), Henry Richard Cook (Engraver)

Portrait of smiling girl with hands on hips, dancing. Over her long dark hair she wears a large headscarf knotted at the neck. Beneath a ruffled white blouse loosely tied at the waist and open at the top, her dress has a fitted bodice and full mid-length petticoat, allowing her fine boots with their Cromwell buckles and narrow toes to be clearly seen. She is just inside a doorway with evergreen trees visible beyond it.

Inscribed in Image

  • Signature – D. Maclise. A.R.A. / H. Cook.
  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – The Irish Jig.
  • Text outside of boundaries of image – London. Published 1837, for the Proprietor, by Longman & Co. Paternoster Row.

Image Details

Genre Portrait
Technique Stipple engravings
Subject(s) Manners and customs
Geographical Location
  • Portumna - Town or city
  • Galway - County
  • Connaught - Province
Keywords(s) Dance, Doors & Doorways, Hats, People, Trees, Women
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 10 cm x 16.3 cm
Published / created 1837

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Ireland Picturesque and Romantic
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy Vol. II, facing p. 190
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 9141 r 15
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

The next town was Portumna; and here the river expanded into a lake twenty-three miles in length, and we left the steamer by which we had come to enter into another better fitted for breasting the waters of Lough Derg, The latter, however, had not yet reached the station, and I seized the opportunity to visit the town, at a distance of about a mile. // This should hardly be called a town. It is in reality a straggling, yet very substantial village; and I found a fair going on, with a very respectable show of horses. The situation of the place is central for the neighbouring population of Galway, Clare, and Tipperary; and although a great crowd had already assembled, vast numbers were flocking in from all parts of the compass. It was still early in the day, and business rather than pleasure seemed to be the object of the multitude; but here and there I perceived some indications that the evening was looked forward to, and occasionally the twang of a violin came upon my ear like a prophecy. Pursuing my way further among the crowd, I at length perceived that the dawn of amusement was actually breaking — in a likeness which is admirably well described by Mr. McClise, on the opposite page. The Irish are not great dancers; they never dance save on important occasions; but when they do dance, they dance with that enthusiasm which manifests itself in all their actions, except the action of working. The young girl before us, although her action is not boisterous, is dancing with soul and body. Her eyes, feet, and hair jig it at the same moment. Her hair, indeed, is rather out of bounds in its amusement, considering that it was actually combed in the morning — a discipline of extraordinary rarity. But this is the consequence of habit, and may easily be forgiven, especially on a fair-day. It will // be seen that this girl is not of northern origin. Her father lived farther down the Shannon, and, from his gait, features, and even name, you may observe that he belongs to that Spanish colony which spread itself over the country west of the river. She is herself Spanish all over, with a dash of indolent voluptuousness which proclaims her ancestry. If she belonged to the country farther north, her face would have been round instead of oval, her eyes small, and her nose short, sharp, and retroussé. If farther north still, she would have rejoiced in the strongly-marked and somewhat rigid features of the Scots. [Vol. II, p. 189-191]
The Irish Jig