The great love of my life has always been dancing.

I guess I inherited that from my father too. At sprees, he was the first on the floor for The Stack of Barley, The Fling, The Versuvienna or Shoe the Donkey.

And as often as not I was his partner.

We were really good too. He could dance all night.

Even after we came to America, and as he grew older, dances and weddings were all an opportunity for him to show off his form.

When I was old enough to take the bus into Cavan town, I joined a group of friends—the Flatleys, Anne and Merlyn; Vera Charters; and others—on a weekly Saturday morning trip into town.

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On arriving at the bus station on Farnham Street, we crossed the bridge over the river to Railway Road Street to Miss Powers. We paid five pence each for our dance lesson. We were divided into small groups, each learning a different step dance depending on our level of ability. We started with the very simple single jig, performed to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel.”

A penny for a cotton ball

"One and two and three and four."

A hapney for a needle

"One and two and three and four."

That's the way the money goes

"One and two and three and four."

And Pop goes the weasel

"And down, two, three, four, five, six, seven!"

And so on and so on.

We learned our steps, one each week to be practiced and perfected by the next lesson. I never had to be forced to do that and I perfected my technique by practicing in front of the wardrobe mirror in my parent’s room, the parlor.

I remember when the weather was clear and warm enough, we had our lessons in the back yard of the Power's home. In winter, when it rained, we were indoors in the back room and kitchen.

Each dancing school was recognized by the steps it did to each dance and Miss Powers’ School was widely known and respected. When I visited Miss Powers in 1986, she gave both my daughter and me a lesson and I was transported back so many years. Now in her seventies, she is as light on her feet and as graceful as she was back when I was a child; a truly talented, graceful lady.

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After I came to the United States, I continued my step dancing, eventually teaching our daughters basic dances and teaching a small group of children some Irish dancing at their dance school. What a joy to see these children perform the dances, I had learned as they competed and won awards in the Ethnic category in their dance competition.

Monica Argue Bahm is the author of "Five Stones in a Bovril Bottle" from which this Bovril Bottle" from this extract is taken. You can purchase the book here. 

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