Council Chair hosts reception for three World Irish Dancing Champions

20th October 2023

World Irish Dancing Champions Reception

Recently the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, hosted a reception for three World Irish Dancing Champions.

The following is a copy of the speech delivered by the Chair at the reception:

Good evening, Councillors, ladies and gentlemen

As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all here to The Grange, Omagh for this reception in honour of three World Champion Irish Dancers – Anna McCarroll, Mairead Mullin and Barry Teague.

Anna, you are a member of the O’Kane School of Irish Dancing and you started dancing at the young age of 3.  Over the years you have won numerous medals and trophies at local, National and World competitions.

I understand in 2018 you were Ulster Champion and you achieved your first World Champion title in 2019.  Unfortunately in 2020, the World Championships did not take place due to Covid-19 and in 2021 you were unable to compete due to a broken ankle.  However, you made a good recovery and came back to win the World Champion title in 2022 and 2023.

You have achieved this success alongside studying for exams and I understand you are now in your final year at Ulster University where you are studying Podiatry.

I am delighted to learn that you also hope to complete the first part of your Irish Dancing Teachers exam in June 2024 so you can share your exceptional talents and skills with other young dancers now and in the future.

Mairead, you are a member of the Scoil Rince ni Bhrogain School of Irish Dancing and at the young age of 12, you have already enjoyed great success.

You have competed in many competitions at local, National and International level winning many medals and trophies.  You won the first major championship which were you eligible to compete in when you won the Under 10 World Champion title.  You have went on to retain this title in subsequent years winning World Champion Under 11 and Under 12 and in 2022 you also won the title of Ulster Champion.

As well as competing solo, you also competed as part of a team with your fellow dancers in Scoil Rince ni Bhrogain and over the years you have helped them to win an Ulster and five World Team Dancing titles.

Such is your talent, you have been featured in the International Irish Dancing Magazine and you regularly feature on social media with other young dancers watching eagerly to see if they can find out what the secret to your success is.  I understand you are also performing in Disneyland Paris in December and I am sure this will be a magical and memorable experience.

Your success has been achieved whilst you had to change school to St Ciaran’s College, which in itself is a significant step for some young people, however, you have taken this all in your stride.

Barry, you started dancing at the age of five with the Baxter School of Irish Dancing and you were destined to be a dancing having grown up with it as I believe there is a history of great dancers in your family.

Your talent for dancing was noticed at a very young age and, like Anna and Mairead, you competed in a variety of local, National and International competitions and championships winning numerous titles and medals.

You won your first Ulster Champion title in 2018 and again in 2019 and 2022.  However, your greatest achievement has been winning the World Champion title for the last three years.

Your commitment and love for Irish Dancing is such that you travel all over Ireland and Scotland and recently to America to dance at feisanna.  You also give of your timely willingly to help and encourage other young dancers in the school.

As well as competing in solo competitions, you also compete as part of the Baxter School of Irish Dancing Team winning many local and Ulster titles.

I understand you have recently retuned from Florida with the Raglan Road Dance Troupe which was a great opportunity to travel and dance and you were a great ambassador for your Dance School and you family and friends.

You also achieved this outstanding success alongside your school commitments, both academically and in sport as I believe you are also a talented footballer.

Anna, Mairead and Barry, you have all attained significant achievements in Irish Dancing and at a young age demonstrating you are exceptionally talented.

Irish Dancing requires a great deal of commitment to practice and attend classes and competitions, which can often involve travelling some distances.  This is not easy when you have other demands on your time including school and wanting to spend time with your family and friends.  However, as well as gaining Irish Dancing skills, you have also developed skills in listening, following instructions, being resilient and also being a team player.  These are important skills which will be transferrable to the workplace so you can enjoy success in your chosen career.

I hope that over the years you have enjoyed the journey and made lifelong memories and friends.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to promoting culture, arts and heritage and we can achieve this with the help of young dancers like you encouraging other young people to join their local dance school so that the tradition of Irish Dancing is retained for many years to come.

On behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, and on my own behalf, I would like to congratulate each of you on your fantastic achievements.  You have done yourself, your family and friends, your Dance School and your District proud and I am confident that your talent and success will have inspired many other young dancers to follow their dancing dreams.

Thank you.