Champion Irish dancers Niall O’Leary and Darrah Carr had just spent an entire class period in the Woodward Gym at Chestnut Hill Academy, teaching a group of kindergartners all about Irish dance and music. Applying their great powers of concentration and persuasion, they managed to herd all of those energetic little cats and keep them focused on the subject at hand. They even showed them how to dance a jig.
At the end of this exhausting but fun-filled period, there was just enough time for a few questions about Irish culture.
First question, from a little guy in the back:
“Did the Vikings invade Ireland?”
Darrah: Yes, they did, many times.
Second question, same kid:
“How many times did the Vikings invade Ireland?”
Darrah: Not sure, but many, many times.
Third question, same kid again:
“And what happened to you?”
Darrah: Happened to me when?
Same Scandinavian pirate-obsessed kid:
“When the Vikings invaded Ireland.”
Proof once again that, in the eyes of very small people, we older people can seem unbelievably old.
O’Leary and Carr were visiting CHA this week as part of the Steele Guest Faculty Program, designed to expose students to irish culture. The program is overseen by Peggy Steele and honors her late husband Franklin Steele. Past guests have included Malachy McCourt and Irish fiddle champion Seamus Connolly.
O’Leary is the director of the largest Irish dance school in New York City; Carr is artistic director of a New York-based modern dance company that blends Irish culture with contemporary dance.
The two guest faculty members for the day had a very busy day indeed, visiting classes from morning to late afternoon. They also returned later that evening for a special presentation … for adults.
Whether showing off their hard-shoe skills or playing the spoons, the grown-ups were no less charmed than were the kids.