Our 2023 Irish Dancing World Championships experience

Hi there! We’ve happily been an Irish dancing family for the past 18 years, when my son first started dancing at the age of six. All three of our kids have enjoyed it over the years. They have danced in teams (ceili) and solo. Currently, our 19 year old daughter, Cliona, is the only one dancing. The World Championships, of course, is the biggest competition, where people travel from all over the world to compete. Everyone at the World’s must first qualify to be there through regional qualifying competitions. To simply walk on to the World stage is a huge accomplishment!

Cliona on the World stage for her reel.

This year was the first time that Cliona qualified for the World Championships in solo dancing. The event always takes place over Holy Week, rotating between Ireland, the UK, the US and Canada. This year they were held in Montréal, Canada, and what a time we had!

Irish Dancing World Championships in Montreal, Canada.

The World Championships competition is a bit different for the girls, as it is held over two days for each age group, instead of the typical one day for the boys. Cliona’s competition was relatively small with just 105 dancers. They all dance their reel and hornpipe on the first day. Then there is a 50% recall where the top 50% are brought back the second day to dance their reel and hornpipe again. Then there is another recall of the top 2/3. Those dancers then get to dance their set-dance. There are five judges for each dance, and for each round of dancing there are five different judges. So for this competition there would be 25 different judges.

Proud parents with our Irish dancer

So many hurdles to jump through to get to the final results! Our daughter was delighted to get the two recalls and then to have placed 32nd. The caliber of dancers was incredible. We are so proud of her! Admittedly, the first day was quite nerve-racking. It felt like the blanket of stress was lifted once she knew that she recalled for the second day. And that upbeat feeling stayed with her – and us – through the second day, too, as Cliona fully enjoyed the experience.

Cliona getting her first recall medal, with her Aunt and Uncle, and hugging her father after learning that she recalled.

I have to say that everyone we met was so lovely. At this stage, Cliona has been dancing with many of the girls for quite a few years. The recall process is such an ordeal, especially when your friends who are also really good dancers, don’t make it through. I was touched by the kindness and encouragement shown to Cliona by girls who didn’t recall. It was a true showing of sportsmanship. The bottom right picture above shows Cliona getting a hug from her Dad upon finding out she got the first recall. The top picture is of Cliona and her proud Aunt and Uncle. And she was all smiles with me and her first recall medal. 🙂

dancing friends at the World's in Montreal
Friends and fellow dancers from our dance school

We are so proud of how hard our daughter has worked to get to this point. And we’re so thankful to be part of a school, Scoil Rince MĂłna NĂ­ Rodaigh, that is encouraging, nurturing and supportive, no matter what the outcome is.

Two of our dance teachers: Ciara Lennon and Mona ni Rodaigh with our dancer, Cliona after getting her second recall medal.
Cliona with two of her dance teachers, Ciara and Mona, after the final results

While we were there for the dancing, we did manage to see a bit of MontrĂ©al and enjoy time with my brother and sister-in-law. The weather wasn’t quite as hospitable. We had freezing rain, and some cold, gray days, but thankfully we also had some sunny days. We managed to find some wonderful restaurants (Italian, Spanish, Lebanese, and Canadian). I also want to note that we thoroughly enjoyed some freshly made bagels at St. Viateur Bagel Shop – an absolute treat for us as there is nothing like this in Ireland! The weather on our free day was perfect for meandering through ‘Old MontrĂ©al’ with its cobblestone streets, markets, and souvenir shops.

collage of family pictures in Montreal
There’s nothing like family! ❤️
Homemade bagels, dinner with family, and at the airport to go to Montreal

We went to Easter mass at the Notre-Dame basilica of Montréal. What a beautiful experience that was, even with the mass being mostly in French.

The Notre-Dame basilica of Montreal
images from within the Notre-Dame basilica of Montreal.

We also discovered the most photographed piece of public art in Montréal, The Illuminated Crowd by Raymond Mason, which is located at McGill College Avenue. This was so intriguing. I must share the description of the sculpture:

A crowd has gathered, facing a light, an illumination brought about by a fire, an event, an ideology – or an ideal. The strong light casts shadows, and as the light moves toward the back and diminishes, the mood degenerates; rowdiness, disorder and violence occur, showing the fragile nature of man. Illumination, hope, involvement, hilarity, irritation, fear, illness, violence, murder and death – the flow of man’s emotion through space.

The Illuminated Crowd, Raymond Mason
The Illumination sculpture by Raymond Mason

It was nice to get out and explore the city, and on such a sunny day!

family pictures around Montreal

What a lovely experience it was, to watch our daughter compete in the World Championships. It was such a pleasure to see her shine! Better still to have family there, with us! We’re so thankful that my brother and sister-in-law made the trip to support Cliona. And we all were able to enjoy MontrĂ©al as well! 🙂

Cormac with his World Champion first place globe for u16 ceili dancing and Cliona with her 3rd place globe for u13 ceili dancing

The above picture is a throwback to 2014 when my son’s under 16 mixed ceili team won the World Championships in London (That was amazing!) and Cliona’s under 13 mixed ceili team placed third! This picture was taken when we brought the globes home to show the family over Easter.

Here’s to more fun adventures in Irish dancing. 🙂

In Peace,