It all started last year, at the South Sligo Summer School. We were doing the kind of trip we have gotten really good at, balancing vacay and research/conference work. So we were in Sligo, where I was learning some sean-nós step dancing as part of my research on connections between sean-nós and traditional Irish step dance.
A conversation with Brenda O’Callaghan (the sean-nós teacher) led to a demo of some Newfoundland step dancing, and she quickly proffered an invitation to come and perform at the Cos Cos Sean-Nos Festival, to be held in Rathcormack, Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo in May 2013.
I was late getting to the car, and apologized to the boys inside, saying “I was just invited to go to Ireland for a weekend next May!” Seemed like a wonderful opportunity, particularly given all The Gathering events this year, but the reality of it a long shot for sure, given the cost and time involved.
Fast forward several months, and the invitation kept niggling at the back of my mind. I decided to write to Brenda, asking if the offer is still on the table. Indeed it was. So I applied to the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council for a Professional Projects grant in the dance section, figuring that the stiff competition would rule my project out.
When the funding letter came several months later, the reality hit – I am in fact headed to Ireland to dance for a weekend in May.
Well, that weekend has come. Leaving tonight on a jet plane, as they say…four days of step dancing, trad music and, of course Bulmer’s and “the full Irish”.
Sleep can come next week…
Want to know more about sean-nós step dance? Here’s a clip of the fabulous Mick Mulkerrin at the Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, another summer school I attended in 2012.