Morgan Bullock, an Irish dancer from the US who went viral in 2020 and is now touring with Riverdance, has been named as one of the recipients of Ireland's Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad for 2022.

“It is an honor and a privilege to receive a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad from President Michael D. Higgins," Bullock told IrishCentral on Tuesday.

“And as someone who does not come from Ireland, I have always felt at home here and have felt a deep emotional connection to the culture. 

“I feel so fortunate to be able to spread Irish culture through dance, around the world, in a way that shows its beauty that is meant to be shared, appreciated, and celebrated.”

Ireland's Presidential Distinguished Service Award was established by the Irish Government following the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum as a means to recognize the contribution of members of the Irish diaspora and was first awarded in 2012.

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said on Tuesday: “I am delighted to have the opportunity once again to formally recognize the achievements of high-achieving members of our diaspora and their contribution to Ireland and to Irish communities abroad. Their service and commitment is a shining example to us all and I am delighted that they have been selected to be honoured by President Michael D. Higgins in such a fitting manner."

Ireland's Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora Colm Brophy, T.D., added: “We are very proud of the impact our global family continues to have all over the world and the recipients of this Award demonstrate between them the remarkable diversity and richness of Ireland’s diaspora. 

“The President’s Awards highlight and celebrate in a very special way the achievements and the diversity of the global Irish family and I very much look forward to meeting this year’s recipients when they travel to Ireland for the awards ceremony hosted by President Higgins later this year.”

Bullock joins the following individuals as recipients of the 2022 Presidential Distinguished Service Awards:

  • Arts, Culture and Sport - Katie-George Dunlevy - Britain
  • Arts, Culture and Sport - Joseph M. Hassett - US
  • Arts, Culture and Sport - Fergus Linehan - US
  • Business and Education - Prof. Wang Zhanpeng & Prof. Chen Li - China
  • Charitable Works - Ciarán Staunton & Orlaith Staunton - US
  • Irish Community Support - Josephine O’Driscoll - Britain
  • Peace, Reconciliation & Development - Mary Ellen McGroarty - Afghanistan
  • Peace, Reconciliation & Development - Fr. Richard (Dick) O’Riordan - South Africa
  • Science, Technology & Innovation - Teresa Lambe - Britain

Bullock, who trains with the Baffa Academy of Irish Dance in her home state of Virginia, has been Irish dancing since the age of 10 and is now a world-ranked competitor.

In May 2020, she achieved viral fame for her Irish dance remix to Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage."

@morgvn.elizabeth #irishdance #fyp #keepingactive #spacethings #foryou ♬ Savage Remix - Megan Thee Stallion

Her video drew the attention of Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who invited her to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day, as well as Padraic Moyles, the dance director of Riverdance, who invited her to join the show's US tour in Virginia and gifted her free admission to the Riverdance Summer School.

Bullock has since become the first Black Irish dancer to feature in Riverdance.

Such was Bullock's impact that she was considered when the Irish government was creating its five-year diaspora strategy. A spokesperson for Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs told the Irish Examiner in 2020: "A gifted artist and deeply intelligent and articulate young woman, she [Bullock] is herself an outstanding ambassador for Irish dance and culture.

“We hope to continue to work with her in the years ahead, as we seek to implement this strategy.”

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