The Mulvihill-Lynch Feis, a local competition in Smithtown in Long Island, may seem like a small event by some standards. Organised by Debbie Lynch-Webber, head of the Mulvihill-Lynch School of Irish Dance, it takes place at Smithtown West High School.
Yet the feis, which takes place this upcoming Sunday, May 31, draws hundreds of children from New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and as many as seven or eight hundred kids will compete. In fact, it’s a big deal.
“Attendance is kind of low because this is the communion season,” says Sharon Monaghan, mother of two daughters who are participating in the 11th annual Mulvihill-Lynch Feis. Still, she adds, “We have over 200 students in the school.” The rest of the Irish dance competitors come from the New England and mid-Atlantic regions.
Monaghan, originally from West Yorkshire in England, got involved with dancing because “my oldest used to prance around watching ‘Riverdance.’” She wanted her girls to turn their interest into an activity. That was 10 years ago, and her daughter’s 13 now.
“It teaches them time management,” Monaghan says. “They’re focused on positive things. They have to get schoolwork done as well as dance, and they have a sense of discipline and respect. They’re a good bunch of kids.”
Time management is important for parents too. Monaghan works as a volunteer at the feis with her husband, and she says that many other parents do so as well.
“Other than the judges and the musicians, everyone’s a volunteer,” she explains.
“Depending on what level you’re helping with, you work different hours. Parents all volunteer. We all pitch in.”
Keep an eye out for IrishCentral at the Mulvihill-Lynch Feis this Sunday, May 31 at Smithtown High School West in Long Island - we'll be taking photos and chatting with the talented Irish dancers!