Irish American child prodigy, 17-year-old Haley Richardson’s performance shines during the summer run of the iconic Irish dance show ahead of its 25th anniversary

At the age of three Haley Richardson, born in New Jersey, asked if she could learn to play the fiddle, shortly thereafter she discovered Irish music and by the age of six she had qualified for the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, an all-Ireland music competition. The rest is history.

Now at the age of just 17, accompanied during her tour with Riverdance by her mother, the talented Richardson is a crowning jewel in the beloved Irish dance show. For the 16th summer in a row, Riverdance has returned to the stage of Dublin's  Gaiety Theatre. Featuring the combined talent of the Riverdance lead dancers, the Riverdance Irish dance troupe, the live Riverdance band (now including Richardson) the show continues entertains audiences of all ages and cultures.

Riverdance at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre

Seeing Riverdance in the place where it all began should be on everyone's Ireland bucket list. Riverdance returns for its 16th summer season at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre. Read more here:

Publiée par sur Lundi 22 juillet 2019

Read more: Riverdance triumphantly returns to the stage in Dublin

Speaking to IrishCentral, in the VIP room backstage, Richardson explained how music was always very much part of her family life. She and her brothers were all homeschooled, in New Jersey. She would stand behind the electric piano, which played pre-programmed tunes, and believed she was performing. She recalls all the children always being curious about music that was played in the house, specific instruments and their sounds. 

She soon asked for violin lessons and shortly after her mother spotted a flyer for a master Irish fiddle player, Kevin Burke, in concert. Right after the show, Richardson told her mother, “I want to play like that”. She was just three years old.

She went on to win multiple championships at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, numerous MidAtlantic Championships, and the coveted Junior (2015) and Senior (2018) Fiddler of Dooney awards. ​At the age of just 17, she’s also just released the fourth album she’s been involved with – When the Wind Blows High and Clear, where she’s joined by Quinn Bachand.

Richardson’s amazing music career, apart from being quite exceptional for one so young, also has a wonderful symmetry to it.

Sligo fiddle style, Sligo roots

The young musician’s father knew his family had strong links to County Sligo but had never visited now Richardson has not only reintroduced her family to their ancestral home but also plays fiddle in the Sligo style.

The wonderfully talented Haley Richardson, fiddle player in the Riverdance band.

The wonderfully talented Haley Richardson, fiddle player in the Riverdance band.

Reflecting on her career to date she told IrishCentral “It's funny how it all started out. My teacher is Brian Conway and he is very influenced by the Sligo style [of fiddle playing] and so his teacher would have been a student of Michael Coleman who is the go-to guy for fiddling.

"He's probably the most legendary fiddle player ever. The first to go to New York in the 1920s and 30s and his recordings came back to Ireland and still exist today.

“It's kind of funny - me learning this specific, particular style and my descendants are also from Sligo. It's a weird coincidence. I've basically come full circle.”

Before Richardson’s success at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann her Irish American family had never visited the homeland.

She explained “We went the first time I did the Fleadh. The whole family came to Ireland for the first time when I was six.”

While Richardson and her mother are now summer residents in Dublin, while touring with Riverdance, the young musician is no longer a stranger to Ireland by any means.

“This is actually my tenth of 11th time in Ireland. I've played here quite a few times. I've played all around the country, usually, I come in for the Fleadh, but a couple of times it's been for other stuff, like the Dooney Awards.”

This time around, her father only came to stay for a week with her mother chaperoning for the summer. Now Richardson’s hope it that her run with Riverdance can last forever.

The future for a Riverdance virtuoso

“Hopefully I can just continue touring with Riverdance for now. I just love touring and performing and sharing this music with a bunch of other people, said Richardson.

The power of the iconic Irish dance show is not lost on her. She said “I think Riverdance has become such a phenomenon and it was so many people's introduction to Irish music. So many of the musicians who are pure trad musicians who I've talked to about how they got involved in music and they're like "Yeah I saw Riverdance, I heard the music and that's how I got involved." It's so many people's intro to this genre and the Irish culture.”

Truly, as Richardson said, a phenomenon, Riverdance is running through September 15, 2019, at the Gaiety Theatre. Tickets begin at €21 ($23.50) and make the perfect itinerary item on any trip to Dublin.

For super-fans or those seeking a more immersive experience, VIP packages are also available for €116 ($130) and include a premium seat in the Gaiety's Parterre, an exclusive VIP experience, a post-show meet & greet with the Riverdance Principal Dancers, individual photo and autograph opportunities, a pre-show experience with on-stage drills and a cast Q+A, and more.  

For more information, visit 

Here's footage of Richardson in action, in May 2019, playing some Irish reels: