You might say dancer Mary Woods McKenna is luckier than most kids of her age. The fleet-footed 13-year-old from Boston showed her immense talent and determination when she qualified for this week’s World Irish Dance Championships in Dublin. And she can certainly call on her dance teacher for extra tuition whenever she wants, as her teacher Roseanne is also her mother.
Teenager Mary is one of three pupils from her mother’s Woods School of Irish Dance in Boston who are pounding the boards at the prestigious competition in Dublin’s City West arena this week. However, the occasion is extra special for Mary as she’s privileged to have her grandmother Mary Woods watching her every move on stage.
The three generations are flying the flag for the Woods family in Dublin, with Mary’s younger sister Shannon (11) having competed yesterday. The family was also joined on the journey from Boston by Roseanne’s aunt Barbara and sister-in-law Susan.
Roseanne told the Irish Voice: “My grandparents came from Galway so we took this opportunity to go and visit our relatives and see where they came from. We went all the way to Rosmuc, and the roads weren’t too good so the car hit a hole and burst a tyre!”
Despite the minor mishap, Roseanne revealed she was delighted to see her daughters getting the opportunity to meet their Irish cousins.
The national dance of their heritage is hugely important to all generations of the family, as Roseanne’s mother Mary explained how she learned the skill at an early age.
She recalled: “when we were young we all went to dance school, and then later on I took my kids. My daughters danced for years and then they decided to set up a dance school”.
Roseanne’s aunt Barbara revealed she was overwhelmed by the fantastic standard of the competitors as she watched her grandniece in action.
“It’s just fantastic, it’s so wonderful and I’m delighted I came all the way over here to see the girls dancing in Ireland”.
To crown a memorable trip to the World Championships, the Woods family were in the City West arena this morning to see the Irish President Mary McAleese. In a stunning welcome for the President, who will depart office at the end of this year, she was greeted at the venue by a colourful guard of honour as dancers of all ages lined up in their glittering costumes. She was then treated to an exhibition of world class dancing by the top dancers from yesterday’s opening competitions.
However, proving that you don’t need Irish roots to be a great Irish dancer, 13-year-old Caroline Cafoid was among the competitors flying the flag for Chicago.
The teenager travelled to Dublin with her mum Roseanne, who told the Irish Voice: “We have no Irish roots, because my side is Italian and my husband is Danish. But when Caroline saw Irish dancing at our community centre she was just enthralled. She was just two and a half at the time but I had her wait until she was five and a half, because you need to have rhythm.
“This is our second time at the World Championships. Caroline qualified the last two years but couldn’t go the first time because she broke her foot. So we’ve had better luck this year!”