Keltic Dreams win President Obama’s heart
African American and Hispanic Irish dancers make history at the White House
Caroline Duggan originally arrived in 2003 at PS59 in the Bronx from her native Dublin as a music teacher. The mainly African American and Hispanic school, located in a deprived area, had rarely heard an Irish accent. Soon Caroline had the kids dancing as well as signing and began an Irish dancing class and troupe, which soon became a huge favorite after the Irish Voice newspaper first featured them.
The troupe called Keltic Dreams eventually played to huge audiences all over New York and Ireland and became a sensation.
This year it culminated in a trip to the White House to dance for President Obama on St. Patrick's Day. Here is Caroline Duggan's diary of a memorable day:
"March 17th 2010 the dream came true. After hours of practice, work on costumes, dreaming, hoping and wishing, writing letters to the President The Keltic Dreams received a letter from The White House a few weeks previous to the trip and walked into The White House and performed at the St Patrick’s Day evening function hosted by President Obama and The First Lady.
I will never ever forget leading the children into The White House knowing that after two trips to Ireland, performing for The President of Ireland in 2007, and the Northern Ireland Ministers in 2008, that finally the children would perform for their very own President of The United States, a real fairytale dream come true.
There were three performances we were invited to showcase at The White House. The first was in a room known as Booksellers, where guests invited to the event entered The White House. Here ten children performed and four ribbon turners while I accompanied on the violin and flute. This performance lasted about 30 minutes. Then eleven of us performed a three-minute dance in the Lobby of The White House where all the guests had gathered before they entered the East room.
I will never forget dancing with the children there and looking out the doors of The White House and seeing the fountain in the distance and the familiar faces of guests such as Declan Kelly, Stella O Leary and other wonderful people who had been such wonderful supporters along the way!!
Then we went down to pick up the rest of the group. Thirty-five children in total as we prepared for the main performance in the East room. We were all directed into the most beautiful room we had ever seen.
There were flowers hand painted on the wall, just so pretty. I organized the children once again into their photo lines and to our surprise I was told that the President and First Lady were going to come meet with us and take a photo with us. It was a dream come true. I had only been hoping that the children may possibly get a glimpse of The President while they were performing but this was a teachers dream for the children.
After a few practices as a group saying “Good evening Mr. President and Mrs. Obama” and of course a few nervous giggles from us all, in he walked as if out of nowhere, The President of the United States with the First Lady. I was never so proud of the children as they said “Good evening Mr. President and Mrs. Obama”. To think that we had literally come from the Bronx the day before and were now sitting perfectly in the White House with the President and first Lady.