Background: Alice Ann Robinson, an actress and Irish dance teacher, is New York representative for the 45th Mary from Dungloe International Festival.
Tell us about your Irish heritage.
“Both sets of my grandparents were from Ireland. My maternal grandfather Jack Hannigan was from Raphoe, Co. Donegal. My paternal grandfather Thomas Robinson was from Rooskey, Co. Mayo and my paternal grandmother was Alice Staunton from Partry, Co. Mayo.”
You are due to represent New York in the 45th Mary from Dungloe International Festival in the coming weeks. How did you get involved?
“I grew up in the house my grandfather, Jack Hannigan, bought when he moved to this country. It was a house filled with Irish culture, tradition, music and dance. As a child, I was asked to Irish dance at the Mary from Dungloe contest at the Donegal Ball in Philadelphia. It was always one of my favorite events because of the beautiful dresses, and of course, the inspiring young women.
“I was interested in becoming more involved in the Irish community in New York, and the New York Mary from Dungloe seemed like the perfect opportunity to make some new friends and to share my love of Irish culture.”
Tell us about the contest.
“The contest in New York was a night I will remember for the rest of my life. I was nervous, but the judges were incredibly affable and made the interviews feel more like a conversation. When they finally announced the winner at midnight I couldn't believe it! I was over the moon and my mom burst into tears.
“The Mary From Dungloe International Festival is a weeklong event held in Dungloe. It will be a week filled with everything from live music shows, vintage car shows, fashion shows, Irish dance and so much more. The contestants come from all over the world, and will be judged throughout the week as they get to know the other contestants and interact with the town of Dungloe. I can’t wait to experience the week in Dungloe first hand.
“For more information about the festival, and a chance to see lots of pictures from previous festivals, the festival's website is great, http://www.maryfromdungloe.com/index.php.”
What last minute preparations do you have to do?
“I still need another evening gown, so I am going to do some shopping this week. I also have to keep practicing my ‘party piece’ for the talent portion of the festival. I will be singing an Irish song and dancing some steps!”
How did you get involved in acting?
“I started acting professionally at a young age. I studied Irish dance, ballet and jazz at three and then singing and acting at age five. My first job was performing as the live Madeleine doll, and I would sing songs in French and do book signings.
“I have performed several times in Carnegie Hall, off-Broadway theaters, and major theaters regionally and internationally. I have toured throughout North America and Europe, and continue to audition for television, film and theater. I am also currently in the early stages of making an Irish album focusing on the Irish American songbook. I feel very blessed to be able to live out my dreams.”