Shannon and Kathleen Enright are dancing their way to Glasgow, Scotland at the end of this week to participate in the World Irish Dancing Championships.
As the Annie Lennox/Aretha Franklin song goes, “Sisters Are Doing it for Themselves,” and this rings true for two beautiful sisters from Yonkers, via Irish parents.
Shannon, 13, will compete in the girls open under-14 competition. Kathleen, 10 will dance in the girls open under-11.
Their parents, Liam, originally from Listowel, Co. Kerry, and Mairead, who hails from Ballinagh, Co. Cavan, are extremely proud of their daughters.
“It's a great achievement just to qualify and be one of just 125 or so competitors in their groups at the World Championships this year,” said Liam.
Dad will travel to Scotland with his daughters this coming Friday and spend the following five days watching the girls do him proud on stage.
“I’m the lucky one who gets to go. Mairead will stay at home with the other two kids,” he said.
“When the kids are competing, the schedule is kind of hectic but we are hoping to get in a bit of sightseeing also.”
The girls, who have a younger sister, Sarah, 8, and a brother, Tommy, 11, are members of the Inishfree School of Irish Dancing. They spend their evenings and weekends diligently learning new steps from dancing instructors Sean Reagan and Colleen Quigley.
Shannon is the veteran dancer. She has been jigging for six years and has won countless medals for her hard work.
After seeing her sister having so much fun in the Irish dancing world, Kathleen asked her parents if she too could slip on a pair of shoes and gives it a go. She excelled in a short space of time and recently qualified for the worlds, not an easy endeavor. She was over the moon.
Although it’s an expensive hobby, “it’s what they are in to and it keeps them busy,” says Liam.
Dancing is in their genes. Their mother Mairead was a natural at dancing in Ireland when she was younger, but she never competed at the level her daughters have.
“It's important for kids to be involved in some activity, and I think Irish dancing brings great confidence and self-assurance to kids while keeping them fit at the same time,” said Mairead.
“I’m very proud of both girls for qualifying this year. I think it will be both a great experience for them and they’ll have a great time.”
On the costumes, wigs and make-up worn by the girls who compete in Irish competitions, Mairead said that although the costumes can be very costly “the wigs are handy, they save a lot of work, and the make-up gives them a nice glow on the stage.”
Shannon told the Irish Voice her favorite part of dancing is the competitions and making new friends.
“It’s great fun. I’ve been in hundreds of competitions and I love them,” she said.
Looking towards this weekend, Shannon said she is hoping to dance to the best of her ability and “just see what happens.”
“I’m going to enjoy it all and look forward to meeting all the different Irish dancers from all over the world,” she added.
Kathleen, who also enjoys the competitive side of dancing, is bursting with excitement as Friday fast approaches. This is her first time competing on a world stage and she feels good about it.
“I’d at least like a recall and get a placement medal in Scotland,” she said.
Raise a glass to Robert Emmet, the Irish rebel leader executed on this day in 1803