It is fair to say 2020 as a whole was a very different year for everyone worldwide and with the pandemic extending into 2021, St. Patrick’s Day was no exception especially for an Irish Dancing Teacher! It really is hard to believe that we have been in lockdown for the past two years and haven’t got to experience the usual madness that surrounds the holiday.
As a Co- Teacher in a well-established school in Drogheda, Co Louth, St Patrick’s Day is generally an ideal opportunity to fundraise for any upcoming events for the dancers whilst celebrating the Irish culture. Irish Dancing, as we all know is a disciplined art form, so St. Patricks Day really is the optimum time for dancers to showcase their talents and hard work for the general public and of course have some ‘craic’ at the same time.
St. Patrick’s Day also starts the excitement and nerves for the prestigious, Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne, as they are usually only a few weeks apart – I think there was only 10 days between them this year, if Covid-19 didn’t cause such havoc to our lives. It is usually a great time to try and raise funds for dancers from the school who are going to compete in the event in both solo and ceili competitions. Ordinarily we would hold additional classes in the morning of St. Patrick’s Day for that extra push for the World Championships and then prepare for the festivities to happen later in the day.
With 4 qualified T.C.R.G.’s we have often explored a number of different events on St. Patrick’s Day. As dancers in our school come from a number of various townlands within our region they have often taken part in the St. Patrick’s Day parades in a number of different locations.
Our dancers have been sought after to perform in local hotels and pubs in the various locations around their homes and this always goes down a storm! These performances allow dancers to demonstrate their dancing skills and abilities that they work hard on all throughout the year. It also gives dancers some flexibility to use their performance skills to engage with the public and often this can lead to some audience participation for a good Walls of Limerick!
In 2019, following on from a newspaper article written about the school, we were honoured to be asked to perform on St. Patrick’s Day for the private wedding of an international TV personality in the renowned Slane Castle. This was a very exciting opportunity for the dancers and as the performance was a surprise for the wedding guests it created a great buzz- especially that most of the guests had never experienced a live performance of Irish Dancing before. This is a memory that will last a long time for the dancers who participated!
With all the restrictions that we have had to endure with the pandemic, all this seems a distant memory. This year, there were no parades, no dancing in hotels, pubs and no fundraising opportunities. It was no different to most days in the past year. The tradition of going out for a family meal was no longer possible. However, we did get food delivered from local hotel and still had our family meal.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of regular Irish Dancing competitions once it is deemed safe to do so but I am especially looking forward to the craziness that hopefully is waiting for dancers all around the world on St. Patrick’s Day, 2022!!
Peter Boylan – ADCRG