Irish dance crystal awards
Photo: Darlene White
There are many rewards - intrinsic and extrinsic - for the competitive Irish dancer.  Among the material rewards - scholarships, travel and trophies - the crystal ranks highest on the list of awards!

If someone would have told me years ago that my son would have more crystal as a 14 year-old boy than I do as a married adult, I wouldn't have believed them.  But, that's the case.  The first piece of crystal he won was at his very first Regional Irish Dance Competition, the 2008 Southern U.S. Region Oireachtas.  He gave me that crystal, his first.  I can't even tell you how special that is.  Yes, it's smaller than some of the crystal vases and bowls he's won since that time, and I'd gladly accept any of them too (hint hint), but it was his first, and I remember crying when he stood on the stage and received that Galway Irish crystal bud vase along with a plaque saying that he'd qualified to compete at the World Irish Dance Championships in 2009.

Cameron White 2008
World Championships Qualifier
Holding his plaque and his Galway Irish crystal bud vase
Photo: Darlene White
My son's latest crystal award is a 12 inch Galway Irish Crystal vase.  Over the years, he has won Waterford Irish Crystal ornaments, Galway bulb and bud vases, crystal bowls, and even crystal candle holders. He's won his share of trophies, plaques, and medals over the years too, but winning crystal is the best.

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Ian Luebbers 11yrs old
2006 All Scotland Irish Dance Championships
Photo: Laurie Luebbers
There are stories about trying to travel internationally and across the United States with precious crystal vases and bowls.  Laurie Luebbers shared a story about bringing back her son Ian's First Place Champion award from the All Scotland Irish Dance Championships in 2006.
"This crystal is so memorable for me because with the new rule of only one carry-on per person, I had to put my purse in a young girl's dress bag, Ian had to carry his trophy with the Scottie dog inside and I had the huge crystal box. My arms never hurt so much with that box that got heavier and heavier with each step until finally one of the staff at the airport took pity on me and helped me carry it to our gate." ~Laurie Luebbers
Owen Luebbers 2nd Place
2012 World Irish Dance Championships
Photo: Laurie Luebbers
The Luebbers family definitely has their share of Irish crystal Irish dance awards.  I'm thinking they've figured out how to travel internationally with crystal especially now with Owen Luebbers, younger brother to Ian (above), taking 2nd place at the recent 2012 Irish Dance World Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Owen, who dances with the Broesler School of Irish Dance, says his favorite piece of crystal is the one he won this year-- shown at the foot of the podium in the photo above- in Belfast.  It is triangular in shape and has a crystal globe on top.  His second favorite piece of crystal in his collection is his crystal star that he won when he took first place in his age division at the 2011 North American Irish Dance Championships in Nashville, Tennessee.

Billy Petrocelli with his 4th Place Crystal Star Award
2011 North American Irish Dance Championships
Photo:  Elaine Petrocelli
Most crystal awards come from the major Irish dance championships, however there are many Irish dance local competitions (feiseanna) that have crystal awards for Preliminary and Open Champion Irish dancers.  The boys all have their favorite crystal pieces as well as their favorite feises to compete at based on the desire for more crystal.  The nicest thing a boy or young man can do is to give some of that crystal to his mom, speaking as a mom of course.  Many of the boys give at least one piece away to their Irish dance teacher or someone they are close to.

Donna Barrington of Alaska has an adult Irish dancing son, Owen, who is currently touring with Riverdance.  She shared that Owen has given her his crystal from his days of Irish dance competitions.  One of her favorites is a piece he was awarded at the 2007 North American Irish Dance Championships in Ottawa, Canada.  It is in the native Inuit shape of an Inukshuk and is very unusual.
"Owen always gave me his crystal The lifelong training on how to be a good son did pay off. ;) I love the piece from the North American Irish Dance Championships in Ottawa- it is a native sculpture in crystal. Of course, the World's crystal he won is not too shabby either." ~Donna Barrington
Joey Mello
Shown with his 4th place Inukshuk Crystal
2007 North American Irish Dance Championships, Ottawa, Canada
Photo: Eileen Mello
Drake School of Irish Dance mom to two Champion Irish dancing sons, Victoria Griffin humorously shared,
"Rafe's favorite is a crystal clock. We can't remember where it came from. Damon's largest is a honking platter from Dayton that's a good 15" in diameter and has tulips cut into it. His favorite (and mine) are matching crystal urns that he got two years in a row at the Southern Classic feis. I'm threatening to have my mother and myself cremated and have our ashes put in them so we can keep an eye on him forever!"
Karen Kemerer loves that she at least has temporary ownership of her son's Irish dance crystal awards.
"Tyler has won many beautiful pieces! His favorite was the Lennox Treasure chest from "Dead Man's Chest". Of course, he gives them all to me for my curio (until he moves out and takes them)! Love all those beautiful pieces!" 
Tyler Kemerer and mom, Karen
2011 Mid-America Regional Oireachtas
5th place and World Championships Qualifier
Photo: Karen Kemerer
Eileen Emsworth of NewYork shared that her son's crystal collection now surpasses her own.
"My son's favorite piece is a hurricane candle lamp with an Irish claddagh etched into it. I always told him I would be impressed with his crystal awards when he won a Waterford Crystal bowl bigger than the Waterford salad bowl I received as a wedding present. He was so pleased to show me that my bowl fits inside a Waterford Crystal bowl that he had won!"
9 year old Christopher Moran of the Brady Campbell Irish Dance School
2011 Mid- America Oireachtas
Photo: Moran Family
Meredith Lambert, mom to Cameron Lambert of the Tony Comerford School off Irish Dance shared about the variety in size and shape of the Irish crystal that Cameron has won.
"Cam has been fortunate to receive a lot of crystal over the past couple years. Picking his favorite would be really difficult to pin down! I think one of his favorites is the bowl from winning his first Oireachtas (about 15" diameter). It was so unexpected to win it, and to have his teachers get one as well. Last year when he won the Oireachtas again, Cameron got a huge crystal vase (about 18" high). It was so heavy he had to cradle it in his arms when holding it. We joke and call it his "crystal baby" because of how he held it on stage. The medal from worlds this year was not big in size but certainly big in his heart - it is about the size of a baseball and is engraved like a globe. Again, I think it is so cherished because it was so unexpected."
Christian Allen of the Hunt School in Maryland with his Galway Irish Crystal award
2011 Southern Region Oireachtas
Sheila Hunt Murray, TCRG and Beverly Hunt O'Connor
Photo: Allen Family
 If you're an Irish dancer, what is your favorite piece of crystal that you've been awarded?  What did you win it for and where were you?  Have you ever given any of your crystal away?

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