42nd World Irish Dancing Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland
photo Lisa Murphy
The 42nd Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne - the World Irish Dancing Championships - hosted by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha ended Easter Sunday after nine days of solo and team competitions at Belfast's Waterfront and St. George's Market.  An estimated 25,000 competitive Irish dancers, their teachers, families and friends visited the venue beginning March 31st.  

This annual event, much anticipated by Irish dance enthusiasts from all over the world, is the Olympic-equivalent for competitive Irish dancing.  Competitors traveled from Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Japan, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, making it truly an international event of the finest Irish dancers in the world.

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Former World Irish Dancing Champions have gone on to star in internationally-acclaimed productions such as Lord of the Dance and Riverdance, themselves become certified teachers and adjudicators, and opened Irish dancing schools with great success.  Most have been influential in the development and training of other World Irish Dancing Champions as an instructor or mentor and even as a parent!

Boys 14-15 with Peter Dziak from Trinity USA
Photo: Paul Seale
With twelve solo competitions in each of the female and male categories, the potential exists to crown 24 new World Irish Dancing Champions each year.  It is no surprise, however, when a particularly brilliant Irish dancing star defends his or her title year after year.  In 2012, a total of fourteen World Irish Dancing Championships were awarded to defending champions. There was one exception made for a first-place tie in the Girls 16-17 category and both Doherty's Cyra Taylor, defending champion, and Petri's Melanie Valdes shared the podium during awards.

As may be expected, Ireland is the country that produces the most World champions and 2012 is no exception.  The Ulster Region of An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha is comprised of counties in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, and is home to six of thirteen female 2012 World Irish Dancing Champions.  Four of the six from the Ulster Region are defending World Irish Dancing Champions from two schools: Brogan McCay and Cyra Taylor, both from McConomy Bradley, and Sinead Carlson and Niamh Taylor both from Doherty.
Boys 13-14 with Champion Jack Quinn from Uí Shé  Ireland
Photo: Rhiannon Gilvarry
North America is home to five 2012 World Irish Dancing Champions - two from the Mid-America Region and one each from Eastern Canada, Mid-Atlantic, New England and the Western United States.  Four of the five are brand new World Irish Dancing Champions, though all have topped the podium at other international Irish dancing competitions, including the North American National Irish Dancing Championships.
Ladies 20-21 with Therese Corless from Aaron Crosbie England
Photo: Feis America LLC
Four 2012 World Irish Dancing Champions are from England/Wales: Ruari McCabe, Boys 10-11 is from Morgan in the Northwest Region and defending champion Therese Corless, Ladies 20-21, is from Aaron Crosbie in the Southern Region.  Two additional champions - John Whitehurst, boys 12-13, and Caolan McKeating-Lynch, boys 16-17, are from Carey Academy in the Midlands Region, England/Wales.

Girls 13-14 with Brogan McCay from McConomy Bradley Ireland
Photo: Alanna Lynch
Two multi-time World Irish Dancing Championships call Scotland home.  Sean Downes, Boys 15-16, dances with McCutcheon and claimed his fifth World title in 2012.  Suzanne Coyle, Senior Ladies, from the McLaughlin School reclaimed her title in a three-way rivalry made famous in the documentary "Jig".

2012 An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha
World Irish Dancing Champions - Boys/Men

Boys 10-11:  Ruari McCabe from Morgan, Northwest Region, ENGLAND
Boys 11-12:  Ronan Kelly from Sylvan-Kelly, Connaught Region, IRELAND
Boys 12-13:  John Whitehurst from Carey, Midlands Region, ENGLAND/WALES
Boys 13-14:  Jack Quinn from Ui She, Leinster Region, IRELAND
Boys 14-15:  Peter Dziak from Trinity Academy, Mid-America Region, USA
Boys 15-16:  Sean Downes from McCutcheon, SCOTLAND
Boys 16-17: Caolan McKeating Lynch from Carey, Midlands Region, ENGLAND/WALES
Men 17-18:  David Geaney from Rinceoiri Ni Riochta, Munster Region, IRELAND
Men 18-19:  John Lonergan from Kiely-Walsh, Munster Region, IRELAND
Men 19-21:  Cathal Keaney from Hession, Connaught Region, IRELAND
Senior Men:  Michael Holland from Richens/Timm, Mid-America Region, USA

2012 An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha
World Irish Dancing Champions - Girls/Ladies

Girls 10-11:  Emma Casey from McConomy, Ulster Region, IRELAND
Girls 11-12:  Keeva Corry from Crogan-Greene, Munster Region, IRELAND
Girls 12-13:  Brogan McCay from McConomy Bradley, Ulster Region, IRELAND
Girls 13-14:  Tie between Cyra Taylor from McConomy Bradley, Ulster Region, IRELAND
                    and Melanie Valdes from Petri, Mid-Atlantic Region, USA
Girls 14-15:  Shannon Bradley from Doherty, Ulster Region, IRELAND
Girls 15-16:  Michaela Hinds from Butler-Fearon-O'Connor, Eastern Region, CANADA
Girls 16-17:  Melissa McCarthy from Harney, New England Region, USA
Ladies 17-18:  Sinead Carson from Doherty, Ulster Region, IRELAND
Ladies 18-19:  Niamh Taylor from Doherty, Ulster Region, IRELAND
Ladies 19-20:  Therese Corless from Aaron Crosbie, Southern Region, ENGLAND
Ladies 20-21:  Olivia Griffin from Butler-Fearon-O'Connor, USA
Senior Ladies:  Suzanne Coyle from McLaughlin, SCOTLAND

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