History of Craobhacha Rince Náisiúnta na hÉireann (The Irish Nationals)

Following a number of letters / proposals over the years requesting a separate secondary qualifying for Ireland, the Oireachtas Committee of 2009/2011 supported the most recent correspondence received in 2009 and a proposal was brought to a meeting of An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha that 2 representatives from each regional council should meet to discuss the feasibility and national interest in this.

After a brief discussion at Oireachtas Rince na hEireann 2010 with chairperson of Oireachtas Committee, Mr. Terry Gillan along with 2 representatives from each regional council in Ireland, it was decided to move forward and An Coimisiun agreed in principle the idea of a separate secondary qualifying. It was also agreed that if such an event was to happen, it would be confined to dancers resident in Ireland.

All registered teachers in Ireland were contacted to see if they supported the idea and there was overwhelming support for this.

At Oireachtas Rince na hEireann 2011 a further brief meeting took place where the following was decided:

  • 1. Whereby it was the original intention that the Irish Nationals would move around the provinces, the first one if not 2 would be held in a central location where it would be jointly ran by all provinces. Venue etc would then be assessed again after the first Irish Nationals.
  • 2. Craobhacha Rince Náisiúnta na hÉireann would take place on 18th – 20th May, 2012. Many dates were discussed but it was necessary that the secondary qualifying would be held before the primary qualifying and this was the most feasible date.
  • 3. There would be 2 additional representatives from each province.

The first full committee meeting for was held on Thursday 8th September, 2011

The committee for the first Craobh Nasiunta na hEireann, more usually referred to as Irish Nationals or Ireland’s Secondary Qualifying, was as follows:

Chairperson: Peter Boylan (Ulster)
Vice Chairperson: Colette McAllister (Leinster)
Secretary: Eileen Fagan – Gargan (Leinster)
Assistant Secretary: Charles Moore (Munster)
Treasurer: Rose Nolan (Munster)
Vice Treasurer: Margaret McBride (Connaught)
Sponsorship/Awards: Elizabeth McConomy – Hegarty (Ulster) & Noreen Duggan (Connaught)
Committee Members: Ann Byrne-Gibbons (Connaught)
Anthony Costello (Munster)
Deirdre Fagan-Cox (Leinster)
Elaine Kavanagh – Cullen (Leinster)
Josephine Brennan-King (Ulster)
Maria McCaul – Mohan (Ulster)
Noreen Redmond –Loughran (Connaught)
Sharon O’Brien (Munster)

It was decided by the committee that every dancer in Ireland should be given the opportunity to compete at the Irish Nationals and therefore adjudicators could only put their name forward if a) they were resident outside of Ireland and b) if they had no association or conflict with any dancer resident in Ireland.

The adjudicators for the inaugural Irish Nationals were:
Barbara Slater Breda O’Brien
Ciaron Brooks Danny Doherty
Hilary Joyce Owens John Carey
John Morgan Kathleen McLoughlin
Mary Lou Schade Michael Kenny
Michael McInerney Nicola King
Owen McAuley Teresa Kinsella
Terry Gillan
The musicians were:
Aidan Cullen Colm Keogh
Kevin Joyce Orfhlaith Ni Bhriain
Paul O’Donnell Stephen Carolan

As it was a huge undertaking, the committee sought sponsorship for perpetual cups to be awarded and every single perpetual cup was sponsored. The support received from regional councils, teachers associations, teachers, parents and dancers was immense.

The first Irish Nationals took place in City West Hotel & Conference Centre on 18th – 20th May, 2012 and the opening ceremony was performed by the Tánaiste Mr. Eamon Gilmore. The chairperson of An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha, Mr. John McDonagh also spoke.

The event was a huge success and there was an atmosphere never seen before at a feis in Ireland.

Let’s hope that the Irish Nationals can maintain this success in future years.