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Shannon Irish Dancers
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A Brief History

By Kerry Ann King (Coordinator)

As long as there has been an Irish Show in Shannon there has been Irish dancing. The first show took place in 1966 and at that time, Paddy White, a resident of Shannon, but a native of Northern Ireland and an Irish dance champion himself, taught a group of teenage girls their reel steps to dance in that first show. He continued for a number of years, adding a few more dancers each year. When he gave up teaching Irish dancing, the Catholic Women's League invited Mrs. Nancy Roy, an Irish dancing teacher from Montreal, to come to Shannon to teach our dancers. Several years later, Bernadette Short, our present dancing pro, took over the task, something she has done for about 20 -21 years. Dancing, at that time, was taught from January to March (or occasionally they began in the fall) with the sole purpose of preparing dancers to dance for St. Patrick's Day!

Our present troupe of dancers has been together since the fall of 1996. The intention at that time was to start early to get them ready for the Shannon Irish Show in March. Impressed by the progress made by the dancers, Bernadette Short encourage most of the almost 35 dancers to enter the annual Ville Marie Feis (Irish dancing competition). *This was our first feis. (*Although other dancers did go to the a few feiseanna in the early 1980's under the coordination of Mrs. Melita Maher). The many medals won at their first competition in May of 1997 was proof that our dancers had a great deal of talent. The summer of 1997 marked the 150th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ireland and the Shannon Irish Dancers, as they came to be known, were invited to dance throughout the city and surrounding area. Events included the St. Jean Baptiste celebrations at DíYouville Square and Canada Day celebrations at the Plains of Abraham, shows at the Vieux Port de Quebec and the Musee de la Civilization as well as many commemerative ceremonies and dedications such as one that took place at Berthier-sur-Mer that summer.

Since then the Shannon Irish Dancers have been busy dancing year round. There are about 80 dancers ranging in age from 4 years to adult. They continue to perform annually at the Shannon Irish Show but travel to Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, New York, Boston, Maine and further, to compete in feiseanna. They are in great demand for shows and festivals throughout Quebec and Ontario.

~ Shannon Irish Dancers ~