The Moms and Dads are the engines behind Irish dance.
Being an Irish dancer’s parent is no easy job as it involves so much time and money.
But the parents at the World Irish Dancing Championships in Philadelphia tell IrishCentral.com that they are more than happy to do it.
The American parents are thrilled that the Worlds is at their doorstep this year, making it more feasible for North American teams to make the trip to the championships.
Gay Hudson, whose daughter competes with the Maple School of Washington D.C.’s Junior Ceili Team, told IrishCentral, ““It’s wonderful. We’re so priviliged it’s in Philly so we could all get here.”
It’s the first World Championships for all the girls on the Maple School team.
When we caught up with Gay, she and her fellow Irish dance moms were watching on, amused, as the 14-year-olds applied each other’s makeup for almost two hours before heading on stage.
For Cailin Pachter’s daughter, Tara, who dances with the O’Grady Quinlan School of Bethelehem, Pennsylvania, this is her first major World dance competition.
The school’s under 16 Junior Ceili Team traveled to Killarney, Co. Kerry for the All Irelands this year, but they didn’t even have to cross state lines to get to the biggest Irish dance competition on the planet.
“It’s very exciting,” said Cailin. “It’s very exciting to have it close by, too.”
Irish dancing parents from Ireland, England, Scotland and Australia at the Worlds had farther to go but this hasn’t affected their excitement and happiness.
“Apart from the expense, we’re all very proud,” said Allison Connor from Edinburgh, whose daughter, Erin, 22, is competing in the Ladies Senior solo competition.
Erin is currently with the O’Donnell School in Canada, but she’s originally from the Haughey-Edwards School in Scotland, her mother tells us.
This is the first time Erin has qualified for the Worlds. She missed qualifying six or seven times over the last 12 years until finally making it through in Niagra Falls this year.
Mom Allison couldn’t be prouder, and appreciates the benefits of Irish dance as well. “It’s all very expensive but it keeps them out of trouble. It keeps them off the street and it gives them a go in life, and it’s fab to watch them,” she said.
Lots of parents have the once-in-a-lifetime feeling that trumps any costs of competing in the Worlds.
Mary Anne McKeon, whose daughter, Molly, is competing in the ceili and figure competitions, said: “It’s costly, but who knows when she’ll get to do this again?”
The smooth sailing at this year’s Worlds is also helping alleviate any stress parents might feel.
Mary Anne said, “It’s our first Worlds and it’s very organized. There are enough people around to tell you where to go and enough seating. I don’t feel like the feises where you’re just overwhelmed; it’s very pleasant.”
And though the wigs, costumes and other dance gear are pricey, the overall consesus seems to be that all the glitz and glam involved with the Championship is great.
“It’s all very glamorous. I think it’s fab,” said mom Allison Connor.
Irish dance dad Tommy Redmond from Dublin is also a big fan of the fancy wigs and costumes.
"I think the whole lot is just fantastic," he said.
The parents say they're inspired by their children’s happiness and love for Irish dance.
Cailin Pachter said her daughter Tara, who has danced for nine years, is passionate about dancing.
“She loves it. That’s all she wants to do, is dance. She gets upset when there’s vacation and she doesn’t get to dance.”
Tommy Redmond’s daughter Niamh, from the Burke School of Dance in Manchester, has only been dancing properly for a year, but won two World medals this week for the under 10 solos and the Minor Ceili competitions.
"I can't believe in just a year she has achieved so much," said Tommy.
Although Niamh has been dancing for years, she didn't get serious until last year when she joined the Burke School of Irish Dance.
"And she has won so many medals and even the British Championships," he said very proudly.
After hearing Niamhs name being called out for the recall under 10s solo on Sunday and as part of her ceili team on Wednesday, Tommy was close to tears.
"I have to say its the proudest moment of my life," he said.
"I'm in heaven down here," he said. “Being in the midst of all these dancers and seeing how great they are on that stage just makes me so happy and proud of every single one of them," he said.