Talk of Larne’s long link to Irish dancing

Modern Dancing such as Hip Hop and Tap will be joining Irish traditional dance on the programme of Ballymena Festival for the first time ever this year.
Modern Dancing such as Hip Hop and Tap will be joining Irish traditional dance on the programme of Ballymena Festival for the first time ever this year.

A local writer who has studied the history of Irish dancing in the town is set to put her best foot forward to reveal her findings.

Angeline King, who has been an avid Irish dancer since childhood, will deliver a seminal talk on the subject at Larne Museum on Thursday, June 1 at 7pm.

The talk has been rescheduled owing to the Friends’ Goodwill festival events, which includes a concert on the original date, May 18.

Angeline will be detailing how she discovered that Larne was the first town to host a music festival which included Irish dancing as a category.

That was back in 1928 and she says it marked the beginning of what has become known as the ‘festival tradition’ of Irish dancing.

By the early 1930s Irish dancing at festivals had spread to other predominantly unionist towns, highlighting that Irish dancing knew no political or religious boundaries.

The dancer most associated with the success of the early festivals was Peadar O’Rafferty, who ran dance classes at the British Legion in Larne in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Stella Mulholland, sister of Patricia Mulholland also ran dance classes in Larne in the early 1930s (Stella’s sister, Patricia, became very well known for her Irish ballets, Irish dancing demonstrations that narrated ancient mythological tales).

Patricia Mulholland was also a frequent visitor to the town and taught the likes of Miss Marjorie Andrews.

In her extensive research Angeline found that many of the dancing teachers in Larne could trace their dancing lineage to O’Rafferty, the Misses Mulholland and Miss Andrews.

Angeline has been researching for a book on festival Irish dancing and her talk will be drawing on the information which she has gleaned since she commenced in 2016.