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Irish Dancing in the Bronx

Wee Are The World: Irish Dancing in the Bronx

On St. Patrick's Day, I was reminded of my old sport of Irish dancing. When I was a wee one, my whole family took dance lessons and competed. On Saturday mornings, I would have opted to watch Tom & Jerry instead of attending my dance lessons.

But some kids from the Bronx give up their cartoons and activities to jig and clog. As reported in the New York Times, Irish dancing has taken Public School 59 by storm.

To see a video and learn more about this inspiring tale


Young Irish native Caroline Duggan moved to the New York burrow to try her hand at teaching music. As she became acquainted with her students, she slowly introduced them to her own culture. The Hispanic and African American students who filled her classroom were puzzled by her accent, which initiated a discussion of Ireland.

Soon after, the energetic instructor showed off her "Riverdance" steps, which led to her teaching the moves to 25 students the first year. Now, her roster has multiplied to include nearly the entire student body.

To say the program is successful would be an understatement. Due to the generosity of Irish–Americans and other connections, Ms. Duggan raised $70,000 to help pay for a trip to the Emerald Isle.

She, along with the school's principal, Mrs. McHugh, took 32 children and 18 chaperones back home to show off the darling talented dancers on Ireland’s “Late Late Show." The troupe also performed for President Mary McAlees.

And while the dancers aren't exposed to the Irish music or culture at home, they are soaking it up at school. Many taught their parents the dance and others have gained a sense of confidence and pride with their steps.

And like most things in American culture, the dance moves have been thrown into a melting pot where Ms. Duggan and her students have incorporated something they are familiar with – Hip Hop, into the Irish jigs. The magnificent result has been rewarding for the mentor, her pupils and those who watch them perform.

Check out the gallery below to see some snapshots of the skilled tots.





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