11 November 2005

Dancers kick up their heels at Ulster Championships

Belfast Telegraph

By Marie Foy
11 November 2005

Glittering costumes and prancing pumps have taken over the Waterfront Hall in Belfast for the popular Ulster Irish Dancing Championships.

Around 1,500 entrants will take part in the competition which is running until Sunday.

This is the first time the championships have been held at the Waterfront, although it has already hosted two successful world championships and, earlier this year, the largest ever all-Ireland contest.

The dancers hail from ten counties, including Louth, which also competes under the Ulster banner.

Finnola McGrath (13), from Glengormley, was one of the talented youngsters taking part in the under-13 class yesterday. Her 21-year-old sister, Christina, dances professionally and is on tour with Riverdance in France.

Proud mum Marie said: "The girls both love dancing. When she was small Finnola watched her sister and has been dancing practically since she could walk.

"The Waterfront is a brilliant arena with a fantastic stage and plenty of room for the girls to show off their steps."

Sharing her enthusiasm, Finnola said: "Dancing takes you to lots of different places. I have been to the American championships in San Francisco. It's great."

Emily Logue (13), from Strabane, has been practising jigs and reels for the last eight years

"You do feel nervous before you go on stage but once you're up there you enjoy it," she said.

One of the organisers Jack Connolly, said: "Irish dancing is hugely popular with thousands of youngsters in Ulster taking part. We're thrilled to be at the Waterfront which is an excellent venue.

"We try and move the championships around and have held them in Newry, Bundoran and Enniskillen, but we are already booking in to come back here again next year. The world championships will also be held here again next Easter."

The Ulster Irish Dancing Championships are the first major event to be brought to the city as part of the Celebrate Belfast 2006 programme.

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