Celebrating Our Dance Masters • Ag ceiliúradh Ár Máistrí Rince: Lillian O’Moore, SDCRG

At the venerable age of 94, Lillian O’Moore of Derry (SDCRG) is our oldest living teacher, adjudicator and examiner. 

Lillian was one of the first candidates for the TCRG examination in 1943, alongside Anna McCoy of Belfast. It was while attending the Ulster Championships in Dundalk that Lillian heard about the newly established exam from senior dancer Tomas O’Fairceallaigh (former president of An Coimisiún).

We were delighted to chat with Lillian via Zoom about dancing, teaching and her many accomplishments.

Lillian O’Moore, SDCRG, interviewed by Mary Kay Heneghan, ADCRG

Sharon McCaul-Kelly, ADCRG, still refers to former teacher as Miss O’Donnell:

“Every local competition that we have here in Derry and in Donegal, Miss O’Donnell religiously attends. She never misses a local competition.”

“She doesn’t miss a thing. She can still pick out a dancer when she’s sitting in the front row. She’ll tell you what’s right and she’ll tell you what’s wrong – every time.”

Lillian fondly recalls trips to New Zealand, Australia, and the United States as among her favorite destinations whilst traveling for Irish dance as an examiner, adjudicator and teacher. She speaks affectionately of her own children, with whom she shared her love of Irish dance.

Lillian’s daughter Michelle O’Donnell-Spencer is glad to carry on the family tradition and recalls Lillian’s pride when Michelle earned her TCRG:

“I’ve had pupils compete at several World’s but I’ve never seen my mother as proud as when I brought some of my dancers from Wales to compete in Derry.  She had a seat in the front row where she could cast her ‘critical eye’ over my dancers but thankfully they didn’t let me or my mum down.”

Lillian’s advice to today’s teachers?

“Be happy! With your teaching, with your pupils; and be dedicated. They can’t all be champions.”

Works cited:
“History of the Irish Dancing Commission Examinations” 2013 pp 15-20,
by John Cullinane, PhD
Find Dr. Cullinane’s books at