Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A brief Autobiography: How Irish dancing went from being a hobby into a passion into an obsession. Part Four: The start of first year, my 12th birthday party and the start of bullying in 81 (my Junior school class).

A brief Autobiography: How Irish dancing went from being a hobby into a passion into an obsession. Parts 4,5 & 6.

 N.B Sorry for any grammatical errors in this post - I wrote this very quickly and didn't have anyone proof read it.


Part Four: The start of first year, my 12th birthday party and the start of bullying in 81 (my Junior school class).

I remember my first day in Our lady and St. Patrick's College Knock i.e. St Pats. I recall being in the assembly hall and then finding out what class we were in. I was in 8-1, Mr.Kane a religious and irish teacher was our tutor - our tutorial room was in a mobile beside the football pitches. Kiera was in my class and that was all out of  St. Joseph's, most of the other people in St. Joseph’s couldn't be because I requested them not to be. Kiera had a friend from outside of school, Rowan so she wanted to sit with him. I didn't know anyone else so I sat down by myself and eventually Martyn  sat down beside me - who was a very small guy from Larne. Rory  was in my class also for a while in St. Josephs but moved to Bangor and was in 8-1 as well.

I recognized some of the girls  from St. Brides - Laura Mullan was in my class, and then I recognized Orla, Maria  and Stephanie as well from the playground - because they looked kind of funny together, Stephanie and Orla were really short and Maria was really tall. Then they had another girl who was part of their group, a big girl with brown wavy hair, and I knew I recognized her from somewhere but wasn’t sure where from. It was Niamh - she was an Irish dancer from Kathy O’Connor but she was an age group lower than me due to my birthday being in October and hers in January, she attended  St. Brides also.  I recognized Jennifer Woods also - she was on my holiday in France.

I missed Holywood festival due to being on holiday but I remember talking to Niamh in Maths class about Newtownards festival.  I remember being collected from school and going to it - Gertie Mulligan was adjudicating - she was the original Ballynafeigh teacher and had a really quirky accent and it was a single age group. This was the first festival I saw Natalie McAlister dancing for Dominic Graham, her school had closed down. This was also the first festival i danced the hornpipe - you had an option between (heavy jig or hornpipe) and I got a recall with Sharon McConville and Gillian Hodge- me and Gillian from then on, nearly always got a hornpipe recall. I think i got 5th in the championship. A girl from Castletown won, Natalie got 2nd, Gillian and Sharon got 3rd, 4th I’m unsure, i think I got 5th with Nicole Ogilby and Aimee Gibson (Tir Na N’og) got 6th. I don’t think Conor Smyth danced - he went to St Pats also and was the year above me, we were in the boys choir together.

At first, I was fairly popular,  I got along with Rowan and Colum quite well, I remember doing the sponsored walk/run with them- he was from Bangor, and Jennifer Woods and Jessica were friends with me as well - i sat beside them in practical classes (HE, Technology, Art & Science). Then I had my birthday party.

I always had massive birthday parties, parties seemed to be something my family put great importance on and they were very good at it. Everyone in my primary school classes was  excited about getting an invite to my birthday - regardless if they liked me or not. Claire Corrigan told me in St. Pats that in St. Brides she was the only girl never to get an invite - I realized that was because she was chubby, I continued this in St. Joseph's and never invited Nicola Redfern - who was chubby also . It was like America's Next Top Model, I was like Tyra with my envelopes to see which girls had the best photo to get invited to my birthday party.  The last year we went to Planet Fun/ Funderland. We always had a sleepover and watched a scary movie from when i turned 8 and we played spin the bottle as well.  I lost my frigidity (when you snog someone) at my 9th birthday - we had watched titanic... and that is why it was a 12.

We were going to Lisburn Swimming Pool - it had loads of slides. And I was only allowed to invite a certain amount of people. So I invited Rowan, Column, Kiera, Jennifer,  my male cousin of about the same age and maybe a few others - they all stayed for the sleepover in which we had a beanie babie (I use to collect them) fight and we talked about who we fancied in our year. I fancied Sophie ( who was one of the only other not pure white people in our year - She looked like Lucy Liu), and Orla  and the other boys fancied Stephanie Ferguson, Emma Darragh (she was an Irish dancer as well) or Amy (who I went to St. brides with and was Gymnast). Jennifer revealed the girls in our year fancied Ryan - I think because he had braces, played football and was a bit of a chav-which seem to make you “cool,” in st pats.  

It was literally as soon as I had that birthday party that I started getting bullied. Rowan Blaney, started to turn everyone against me, he was from the four winds, which is a nice area but other than "Royal Lodge" it wouldn’t be the ritz either and it is of my opinion that he became envious of me after seeing my lifestyle and my cups and medals. I remember I changed my school bag and got bought a quicksilver one, which would have not been as expensive as Louis Vuitton, but still would have been quite expensive for those days or for someone that age, maybe the equivalent of Abercrombie and Fitch. Rowan was trying to catch me out, saying something a bit snobby and asked me how much it was, and I replied £50, and he commented about how expensive that was and I replied “It’s not my fault i have expensive taste” and he told everyone I said that. In my view, he was being really manipulative because he was jealous and he continued to do that the next few years.


Part 5: My aunties suicide, my first detention and the sowing of the seeds for more bullying, family problems, a split in my personality and politics in Irish dancing.

The school recital was coming up and I was in it for two reasons: I was in the boys Choir and Irish dancing. My music teacher was Miss McLean and her son Niall McLean taught fiddle lessons in the school and she asked me to dance for them (Not Niamh or Emma, or any other Irish dancers in that year for that matter) - I did the hornpipe. This is when I lost my confidence for singing, in the boys choir we were doing the 12 days of christmas and we all had a part each and when it came to me, I forgot my line and I started to get stage fright after this. Around this time I had joined my local folk group and was given a solo on my first day, but then didn’t show up. I have discovered recently after 10 years, however, that I can still sing, and am getting lessons now - I have over 3 and a half octaves and expanding, I thought I was a tenor at first, but I’m more of a baritone, but I still have kept my falsetto with a possible whistle register, This didn’t help the bullying though, irish dancing and boys choir was not cool. Boys were meant to play football, wear tracksuit bottoms, spit and talk with a belfast accent.

By the new year, I wasn’t getting along with my classmates whatsoever. 8-1 was the swot class, and I wasn’t a swot (a swot is like a nerd). There was a merit system, you lost your own merit for the day if you didn’t do your homework, were cheeky etc, and if three people were put in the merit book, then the class lost their class merit. This is when Niamh started to hate me, because I didn’t always do my homework or could be a bit cheeky sometimes. I was quite the rebel in comparison to my fellow 8-1ers, and had to be called out by our year head and told off.

 I can remember one religion class, Niamh got really angry with me for losing the class merit  and on the other hand I was making fun of her for being a swot - we were drawing pictures of each other and saying “this is you”. Then it got onto to irish dancing in which she told me she won “The Ulsters”  and that the reason why my teacher wasn’t in the FDTA was that she wasn’t good enough! In a number of talking and listening exercises, when you had to talk about “your proudest moment” for example, she stated that she had won the ulster's.  On top of this she use to tell everyone that she was way better than me - which was annoying, but she had been irish dancing for a few years longer than me also.

I had friends outside of school, who were neighbours, Michael Maxwell, who went to St. Joseph's as well, but he didn’t get an A in his 11+, so he went to Campbell/Cabin Hill, and Rhiannon who went to Strathearn and none of us use to like doing  our homework so we use to go to the park - Belmont Park - after school and maybe steal some of our parents alcohol and cigarettes, with some other kids from the area, mostly from Ashfield - which was a Protestant secondary school. Normally grammar school students don’t start this type of behaviour till they are a bit older, but it's probably due to this why we started a lot younger, it started when we were about ten and that's not an exaggeration. I was very secretive, so my parents didn't  know about this, they just thought we were playing and I didn’t tell anyone in school either, or in irish dancing for that matter. I look back on that now and realize maybe the reason none of us wanted to do our homework was a mixture of not fitting in and also family problems - we didn’t want to be in the house if there were arguments occurring.

My Auntie Sandra died in the new year - she was my Grannys sister, but she would of be there a lot at family events. I really liked her, and her sister Norma too. She suffered from depression and took her own life and it was big shock to me as she was always cheerful, good-fun and attractive. - it showed the people who seem the happiest can sometimes be the most depressed. My great-granny had two marriages, she had three daughters with one, then got re-married about 15 years later and had another two daughter and a son. She was the youngest out of the first three so things were complicated for her and it s upset her. Something happened between myself and my aunt and uncle at that funeral though, there was always a lot of competitiveness between my family and theirs growing up and I asked my uncle and auntie about their A-Level results, knowing my parents had done better than them. This made them really angry.

At the same time, I got a detention - I was the first person in my class to get one. Mrs Caulfield gave me one, my french teacher, I didn’t always do my homework and didn’t revise for spelling tests. I think though looking back at this, there might of been a further reason she may have been harder on me - she was at university with my mum when my mum was Miss Northern Ireland and there may of been abit of spitefulness because of this. When my mum was at Queens, people wrote really nasty stuff about her on desks sometimes, some of it being racist. Have you ever watched "Freaky Friday" with Lindsay Lohan before? I forged my mums signature, so my parents never found out.

For the St. Patrick's display all the championship dancers in the school put on a performance - it was to riverdance. There was a lot of tension between “feis” and festival dancers during this. The feis dancers were about nasty about the standard of festival dancers and some of the festival dancers were nasty about their wigs and costumes. I remember thinking though that Jane Quigley was good - she danced for Armstrong I think though and was 6th in the world at one point - she would of been in Simonas, Claire Greaney and Suzanne Coyle.


The next festival was Portadown and Julie Graham was adjudicating. She had adjudicated our joint class festival with Tir Na N’Og and I had done very well in it - I had won nearly all my dances. Zoe, my younger sister, was always talking about Fiona Gleeson and Stephanie Dickson (both Lilas Reilly) so I wanted to go watch her age group and vice versa, so my mum allowed zoe and I to take the day off school to watch each other's section.

Neither of us did very well and we both didn’t like Julie Graham (who is Dominic Graham's niece) after that - we use to do impersonations of her round the house. Her adjudication seemed strange to me, I remember watching Zoes age group, a double age group 9-11, hers and the age group above and she gave most of the solos to Jenna Armstrong (Ballynafeigh) and then the championship to Jennifer Shannon (Tir Na N’Og - who were both great dancers, I actually loved Jennifer's dancing, she was really exciting, but other than that I couldn’t make much sense of it. I remember she didn’t place Stephanie Dickson and I was told that was the first time that had happened. She also didn’t place Clare McKay (Royal Tara) who was also very good.

In my age group, a double age group between my age group and the younger one 11-13, Niamh had a triumphant day over me , I only got a recall in my single jig. She got something in every dance - I remember though she messed up her set - Captain Megan and wouldn’t even sit beside her mum after, but Julie still placed her.

It was the first day I watched Juliet  dance. She had long red hair down to her bottom and looked like Ariel - the little mermaid. I remember other girls in younger age groups telling me about her. She use to put in quite a lot of “feisy” movements and this was strange because she danced for Irene MccAnn who was very traditional, and she also wore quite a lot of make-up and her dress was very short. It was funny because that day she slipped off her toe blocks and fell on her bum, despite apparently Irene telling her not to do them. I remember Sophia McDonald stopped that day, she was also Irene MccAnn and had a beautiful Slip Jig and would of done quite well in my age group. I think Juliet won most of the solos then Catherine Hughes (Tir Na N’Og) won the championship - who teaches with a CRDM school now.  Gillian was there but didn't do that great - I think she was 6th in the championship. Dominic Graham and Jackie White (Tir Na N’Og teacher) are good friends…. I was naive at the time but now I am quite suspicious of this type of thing.

Denise would not let me do Ballyclare, because there was a feis adjudicator. Niamh informed me she won in school though. After that it was Bangor Open, i think it was the Revies mum adjudicating. I did very well that day, I got something in every dance and came 3rd in championship. Niamh didn’t get placed and left the hall crying. It was a double age group again and I think Juliet won most of the dances and Gillian Hodge won the hornpipe. It was the first day I beat Gillian though. I remember the championship result: Juliet won (but she left early due to a family emergency), Suzanne Gray and Chloe Frazer (from Bangor school, she was a year above me in St. Pats also), I was third (woohoo), Amy Lambe and Gillian Hodge were 4th (she had a bit of a wobble during the toe walk in Aoibhell),  5th was Sophia McDonald and 6th was a boy from Irene MccAnn. I remember that day I fancied Suzanne, she was pretty, slim, quite tall with long golden hair and quite tanned skin, she had just won her age group in “The Ulsters”.

After that it was the Northern Irelands. I watched Zoes section then mine was after. I was definitely expecting to recall and place this year. This was the first year at the Northern Irelands when I noticed the adjudication was unfair from my perspective. Zoes age group was 9-11 and I thought Jenna Hamill (she was from Royal Tara and won the Ulsters 10 times in her age group, she moved to CLRG and won the Ulsters there and placed top 10 in the worlds) was way ahead, again like Gillian the year previously one adjudicator placed her 1st then she got a 5th then a nothing.

The two adjudicators who gave her a 5th and nothing placed dancers who were nowhere near as good as her above her - no coincide they were Mulhollands/Bangor and it was held and ran by them. I suppose there is personal taste, but those marks didn’t seem to make much sense. Fiona Gleeson Won (Lilas Reilly - who is Bangor and Mulholland), Stephanie Dickson 2nd, 3rd Jenna Hamill 4th Jenna Armstrong, then after that two girls from the Bangor school (who in my eyes, should not of done and it was ridiculous for these adjudicators to place them higher than Jenna), Jennifer Shannon (Jackie White was a Mulholland) Shannon Millar (St Patrick's) and Sarah Mulligan (Seven Towers) got place) .

I danced really well and my teacher and actually Dominic thought I was going to recall but then I didn’t and was really angry. I didn’t stay for the recall due to this. However there was a few others that didn’t for example Natalie McAlister, Sharon McConville or Sophia McDonald. I also remember this was the first dance I encountered Carly Thompson, from Bentra and she did “The Calling” which was “Danny Boy” essentially, but the musicians got her music wrong and there was a big palava over it. Conor Smyth wore “Reel Shoes” that day, which are boys light shoes but with heels on them, Sheila Fox (Bangor) and I were on stage with him and we were terrified especially since that stage was tiny. Hannah Rouslan danced that day also - I remember her doing Kilkenny Races - she didn’t recall though. As far as I’m aware Ashleigh Won, Gillian 2nd, Chloe and Juliet 3rd, Carly 4th and Suzanne got 6th. Niamh got a recall but didn’t place and so did Conor Smyth.

Belfast Lagan was the next festival. Una Breslin was adjudicating. Gillian Won the slip jig, hornpipe  and championship.Lauren Greaves won the single jig and Victoria McNamee won the reel. I got Something in my single jig and I got placed in the championship. I remember Jacqueline Jones danced that day, she was a beautiful dancer, she was really high on her toes, and she wore the old senior Royal Tara costume (black and pink), which i really like.

Between this festival and the Northern Irelands I noticed three of the Dominic Graham's had been given special music - music that only their school could do, other schools could do "Aoibhelle the fairy woman" even though it was new but nobody but Dominic Grahams dancers could do these.. Natalie, “The Spell”, Victoria McNamee “The Blossoming” and Catherine Lamont “The Warrior Queen”.  And as if out of the blue, other than Natalie who danced for another school, they started doing really well. Why I think special music is unfair, has started to become apparent at this point. Championship result 1st Gillian, 2nd Ashleigh and 3rd, 4th and 5th were the Dominic Grahams in some order, the girl from castle town also got placed 6th Chloe Fraser then 7th was Me, Conor, Naomi Dunn and Nicole Ogilby.

The last festival of that school year was Belfast Mulholland/Kathy O’Connor I can’t remember who was adjudicating but I think it was Carmel Harte. I remember Emma Brien (from McKay) won at least one of the solos that day and I got a recall in everything  but I wasn’t winning, . But I won the boys championship which i was really happy with, all the boys danced very well - Aiden Speight, from Tir Na N’og got 2nd and Juliet won the girls and Niamh got 2nd. From my recollection my mark was higher than the girls that year. And since I had got a recall in all my solos and did my set dance, probably the best I ever did that, it would make sense that I did. I think Juliet's slip jig was higher but my King of the Fairies was higher than her Whistling Gypsy. I remember Juliet and me were smiling at each other then she pulled her hair round to front of her face and tied it in a ponytail then separate it with her hands and poked her head through and I laughed - this was her idea of flirting at 12 years old. She really was like the little mermaid.

The next day I brought my youngest sister, Tulla, to her first festival. She did very well and kept on saying to me and mum, "When am I going to win a cup?", because she won one at the class festival she was expecting one - but she went on to win "Most Promising" and gave me and mum a look saying "I told you so" as she went on to receive it - it was very funny.


Throughout the different parts of my life in first year the seeds were being sown for what was about to enfold - more bullying, family-problems, politics in irish dancing and a divide in my personality.

Part Six: More bullying in my Junior school class, arguments with my father, New Years Eve Parties and the decline of my success at festivals.

 N.B Sorry for any grammatical errors in this post - I wrote this very quickly and didn't have anyone proof read it.
 By second year my Junior school class were looking for any reason to pick on me. I remember on my first day back I wore blazer and the school fleece and Bronagh Rice, a girl in my class, started making fun of me for it “Why did you wear your fleece today” - it was literally anything. The bullying  by the end of the first year had started to spread to the rest of the year too, it was physical sometimes, people would come up and randomly hit me or spit one me and steal money from me.

Two instances which stand out in my head was stealing my pencil case during second year summer exams and some of the boys took my pencil case out the window encouraged by some of the girls I can remember Orla O'Neil saying "Yes throw it out", it's Ironic because I can remember her crying just because one of the boys in our class Martin Hill turning her down. How could she encourage bullying when she couldn't even deal with being rejected by one person. She knew at this stage I fancied her and it seemed like she was doing this especially malcious- to hurt me.  Even though we were still children, it would make you question some of my class mates moral character (I explain in this post t hat I believe that morality is intuitive and evidently she knew what she was doing was wrong). A further example was when I was being attacked with tea towels in HE, I ran out of class and cried in the toilets, because I don't like people see my cry. I pulled a "sicky" the next day, and the school knew that, but they never did much to prevent it happening.  - I dreaded going to school each morning and cried myself to sleep almost every night.

This is when I started becoming abit Whitney Houston obsessed - I started listening to her after watching the first season of “Pop Idol” - Zoe Birkett use to cover a lot of her songs on it, I can remember illegally downloading some of her music then asking for her greatest hits - I use to listen to the “cool down” CD 1 every night - crying, but trying to make any noise so my parents couldn’t hear me, if my dad did hear me then he’d shout at me for “feeling sorry for myself” and so would my mum. From listening to her I then discovered Mariah Carey, Brandy, Aretha Franklin, Toni Braxton, Prince and lots of other RnB singers.


My dad was giving me a really hard time as well so I felt I couldn’t say I was getting bullied because he would agree with them - he didn’t like the upper-middle class life that his children wear leading and especially did not like me. I was always interested in politics and philosophy and would sometimes debate or question his viewpoints (I explain some of that here )- which he use to respond “Children should be seen and not be heard”. My parents would argue every night and I could hear them screaming at each other from upstairs. He was violent to me at times as well and I would have to run away from him - I use to lock myself in my bathroom and he kicked the door in twice for example. His dad was manic-depressive (Bi-polar) and died in a psychiatric ward and use to be violent towards his other children. However he was the youngest boy out of 8 siblings, the second youngest for 9 years and did not have to endure his dad's behaviour, somehow, despite his older siblings speaking angrily about their dad, he thought this type of behaviour, although not as brutal, was acceptable.

Our family looked good from the outside. My family's business was successful, they no longer could run it from the big house and had to purchase another semi-detached property to run it from, eventually it furtherly expanded and they bought the other side of it and knocked it through. My parents are very sociable so there friends would of not suspected this type of behaviour from my dad or my mum, who also can have a temper.

My parents were very good at throwing parties, especially in that big house. I was always excited for New Year's Eve - there would literally be 100s of people there of all ages.  Me and a group of friends, Rhiannon, Ellen (her cousin) my male cousin, Aaron, Jackson and Tiernan (whose parents were there also) and some other kids, use to party up in my bedroom - which was at the very back from a long corridor on the first floor. We use to take it in turns to go downstairs and sneak alcohol.  Our parents knew to a certain extent, but I think they thought we maybe were drinking one or two bears between all of us. This New Year's Eve turned out to be quite messy.

Aaron thew up at one point - I can remember we were doing shots of Bacardi straight (yuck!) and then he went upstairs and threw up all the way down the corridor. I also went to third base that night…. One thing that was funny about this New Year's Eve, was at one point we were drinking tonic water, we thought because it tasted disgusting it must be very strong - the aim was just to get as drunk as possible.The following year we didn’t have a New Year's Eve part due to being in Australia, but my mum had a big 40th birthday instead. That year was the first year I  threw-up - I remember it was purple because I was drinking Bacardi Breezer Watermelon and anything else I could find.  My uncle came into my room at one point and asked us if we wanted a drink and we all said no, then he asked if we wanted an alcoholic drink and we were like “yeo”.  He replied “well, tough, because you're not getting any” - obviously unknown that Jackson had a liter bottle of smirnoff vodka hidden underneath my bed, a long with other alcoholic drinks.

It was really frustrating for me in my Junior school class, because they were such losers and anything I said to them they used against me. Another example of this was Rowan told me that Column had had 5 pints on St. Patrick's day and I told Rowan it wasn’t that much to drink and wouldn’t get you that drunk. He asked me how much have I had to drink and I said a friend and I drank a liter of vodka. He then went around telling everyone then I drank 2 liters of vodka everyday - he was so manipulative.

My friends became Kiera and Stephen in second year, and I was friends with Martyn and Sharham as well. But by third year Kiera and Stephen didn’t even want to come to my birthday because I was getting such a hard time from the rest of the class that they didn’t want to be as bullied as I was.

Me and Martyn got along quite well, despite being very different on paper, we shared a dry-sense of humour which most of the others kids in the class didn’t understand and were both bold - didn’t do our homework and were a bit cheeky. I remember for example during a drugs talk when they explained what “Speed” did : “It makes you think very fast”, Martyns response was “I must get some of that for the next french test” - which I found hilarious, but the rest of that class didn’t... maybe we shouldn't of had a sense of humour like that at 12 or 13. Talking of French Tests, during our spelling tests, we use to swap and mark each others, and I told Martyn to just write down swear words etc and make up a random half realistic score - This went on for weeks -  “Eight and a half, out of ten”, eventually one week when Ms Hughes (our 3rd year french teacher) was walking around the class, she caught Martyn - I was fine though. The same happened when we were having a paper ball fight and then he accidently threw one at our Science teacher - Ms Titterington.  

I realized that none of the tests we did in Junior school were important in the long run, so I use to never study I use to cheat during our summer exams and find it really funny that the teachers thought I had tried really hard for this exam. By third year, I knew what subjects I wanted to do for GCSE - I didn’t study for my Key Stage 3s, because I knew they didn’t count for anything I got 7 Science 6 Maths and 6 English - I was a bit pissed at the 6 in maths because I wanted to do add maths and normally did quite well in maths, but despite being told if you got a 7 in science you should opt for triple award science, I did single-awards science, because I knew I didn’t want to do anything medicine related. I stopped trying in all subjects which I wasn’t doing for GCSE - in the history test, to see who was good enough to do it for CGSE I filled in the first two answers and just turned the paper over and sat there - I got 7%. Mr. Hughes, my year head, got really angry with me and told me I had to start doing better in Irish, because my teacher reported me. In my technology summer exam I just drew random pictures for my diagrams and I can remember getting a detention, when we had  a substitute teacher, I was spinning on my chair and he asked me to stop, but I didn’t, then he asked me if I was stupid, and I responded “Yes, that’s why I went to grammar school” and continued.  When i received it, from Mr Hughes, during Religion, I walked back into the room laughing, thinking it was funny and Niamh (who I had to sometimes sit beside, due to alphabetical order) got really angry and said to the other class mates “You see, he thinks this is funny!”


I started to do really badly during Irish dancing competitions for a while. We moved halls a couple of times, but moved into a hall under the pink church in Hollywood. My mum started to help teach at this time, because she had done ballet and some adult lessons, she knew the basics, in the light dancing, so could help. I had already started to help teach the little ones, two years before this.

Holywood & Newtownards festival were cancelled that year.  So I didn’t have any competitions till Bangor Confined. I never got to go previously because I was from Belfast, but the rules changed that it includes all pupils of schools in north down  got to go. I remember it was a triple age group - 13-16. Deborah Anderson was adjudicating, and I didn’t dance very well, it is a tiny stage and my light dancing, doesn’t ever suit being on a small stage due to being an attacking dancer I got something in my hornpipe and maybe something in the championship. She gave her solos to a girl from Lilas Reilly with Long Dark hair, who I hadn’t seen before. There was set dance class for dancers who were not in championship and she was in that. I think the McKenna girls did quite well that day and I think Chloe Fraser might of won other than that I can’t remember. I remember noticing Holly Sweeney and her friend Sara Elser more at this age, this both danced for Lilas Reilly too - she is Rory McIlroy's long term ex-girlfriend - she had really achy feet and had a nice slip jig and so did her friend, I also recognized Holly from Ballet competitions.  I remember Zoe did well though and Tulla won her heavy jig.

Bangor Open was the next festival after this. I can’t remember who was adjudicating. Again I wasn’t doing well, I got something in my reel and that was it I think. I remember I went blank during part of my set dance. Michelle Johnston won the reel and the slip jig, Siobhan Finnegan won the single jig (i think), I think Deborah Gwynne won the heavy jig and can’t remember who won the hornpipe. I think Sharon McConville won the championship, Deborah was second, Chloe third with Michelle Johnston and I remember Gillian got 6th - she was there but didn’t do well either.I watched Zoes championship, her section was on during irish dancing class and denise drove to it after - She got 6th I think. Fiona Gleeson won, Jenna Armstrong 2nd, then after that 3 of Lilas reilly got Katie McAlindon (who won the slip jig), Stephanie and Shannon. Two girls from Deborah Anderson did well - Emily Jones and Nadeane, they had there new costume with the sparkly cape, then 4 of Royal Tara got highly commended - Clare McKay (she had just begun done Aoibhell), Hannah McVeigh, Marianne Murphy (Royal Tara - Jude Murphy's big sister (who danced for Doherty-Petri) and Jade Morrow. I remember my mum and I actually thought Marianne should've been in the top 3, her King of the Fairies was really good and so was her slip jig - and I remember going up and telling her. There was too many in that age group about 8 in the championship and sometimes I think it went against them.

In Portadown, the solos wear separated into champions and non-champions, and Denise put me into non-champions, which I thought was unfair - since I was a champion, but according to her since I only won championships with only boys in them, I wasn’t one. Perhaps if I hadn’t done well in championships otherwise this may have been fair, but since I usually got placed and even beat Gillian Hodge, an ulster champion and many other great dancers - this didn’t seem fair to me. I believe this impeded on my reputation as a dancer - people looked at the program and saw I was a non-champion and then thought -”Oh he isn’t a champion, don’t bother placing him”. On the other hand there were other good dancers in non champions for example Sophia McDonald and Catherine Lamont.

Jane Ness was adjudicating and even though I was in non-champions and sometimes would of beat the dancers in champions she gave me nothing all day. Then in the boys section - which is a section they have extra sometimes for boys - she tied me with a boy who was basically a beginner - he was from Portadown though. She placed dancers above me who were no wear near as good as me. I was really upset and  it was like she had some sort of personal problem with me. She gave nothing to Stephanie Gwynne in her section either, (her solos were after mine, then championship after) and I watched it and thought this was very strange. I wonder if she was still angry about us not going to Ballynafeigh when they took over Mark Divers class or if there was some other problem going on, maybe because I prefered Gillian over Ashleigh? However my sisters both did quite well? So it seemed personal. Laura Norris won the champions solos, the Sophia McDonald won most of the Non-Champions solos, then she won the championship - which was fair enough, I remember her friend Sarah putting the Cup on her head, 2nd was Laura - she did “haunting the castle” and it was the first time I watched her do it, 3rd Chloe, Gillian and Sharon and that was it - really strange that was all she placed, despite there being about 40 in it. She didn’t place Dominic's dancers Victoria McNamee (she changed to Madame Bonaparte) and Catherine Lamont.

Ballyclare was next, it was huge over 70 in a double age group 13-15 and only about 10 non-prizewinners, then the championship was split into single age groups. I remember I was actually quite scared. All the girls were really tall at this stage, as was Kyle and Stuart who were an age group older than me. I hadn’t had my growth spurt yet. The standard was very high and Donna Revie was adjudicating, I remember despite this she only placed 4 dancers in the reel. 1st Rachel Smyth 2nd Kyle 3rd Laura Norris and I can’t remember 4th. I remember Deborah Gwynne didn’t get placed in her reel then changed costumes into the old royal tara senior costume and then won the slip jig.  I didn’t get anything in my solos that day, but then I got 6th in the championship. Natalie Mcalister won 2nd was either Catherine Lamont or Victoria McNamee 3rd was Gillian Hodge and Nicole Ogilby 4th was Nicola Mitchell 5th was the girl from castledown 6th was me. I was really happy, because the standard had been so high that day.  My mum and I thought Nicola Mitchell should of won - she did “Haunting the castle”. She didn't do many festivals, so didn't have a big reputation but she was beautiful dancer - I think she got 2nd in the Ulsters at one stage.

I watched Zoes and Tullas section as well. Zoe got nothing all day I remember our friend Ella came as well but she didn't get anything either, Stephanie Dickson was winning, she won the championship, 2nd Sarah Mulligan, 3rd Jenna Armstrong and Clare McKay, 4th Marianne Murphy  and Hannah McVeigh, 5th Fiona Gleeson and 6th Shannon Millar (who had moved to Lila's Reilly from St Patrick's). In Tullas age group, Christy McRandle (Royal Tara) won her reel and light-double, though I can remember she went the wrong way in that dance and then turned around, and Rachel Morrow won the treble jig. I remember there were two girls from the Aaron school of irish dancing, who were both really good. Niamh Murphy won her non-prizewinners reel.

I remember Denise talking about what she perceived as a controversial result at the ulsters that year. Robyn Friel, who was Dominic Graham's niece, had got two firsts then Gertie Mulligan didn’t place her and the dancer who got a 1st and two seconds won - who was Daithi Fisher, Daithi was an age group above me and was FDTA so he didn’t do the same festivals as me so I wouldn't of been at many of the same festivals as him very often, he then moved to Doherty-Petri and did very well, prior to this he danced for his Auntie, this was the first time he won. She said that Robyn should of won - I wasn’t there so can’t comment. However, I had seen Robyn dance previously and wasn’t that impressed, I remember watching my older sister Jade’s section in Hollywood and there was a boy who did “The Spell” and he was brilliant, then I remember her as the girl who did it, but wasn’t as good.

The Northern Irelands that year moved to Newtownards, and was quite a big stage. I wasn’t really expecting to do well that year, I wasn’t doing well in the festivals and my age group was the younger part of the double age group and as note previously, I was quite scared of the dancers in the age group older than me.  I didn’t get a recall, my single jig went well but my timing went a bit in my King of the Fairies. Ashleigh O’Neil won (I can remember her stating side stage that she "hated the Northern Irelands - it was like a really long festival, but was more boring because your teachers are there so you can't change your steps"), 2nd Robyn Friel, 3rd Jason Donnelly, 4th Natalie McAlister and Hannah McLean (Bentra) Then after that Hollies Thompson, Rachel Smyth, Victoria McNamee and Catherine Lamont got something. Gillian and Chloe Fraser got a recall but didn’t place. Gillian got her hair caught in both sides of her mouth. Jason Donnelly's result was really strange - he got a 1st then a 3rd then a nothing - he was quite “feisy”. I remember I liked him, Rachel Smyth, Natatlie and Gillian. Robyn Friels Set dance “The Spell” was good but by this stage she had been doing it for 4 years - so it was going to be good.

Zoes section was on before this and she danced really well but didn’t get placed - she should of done though - about 5th I think, her slip jig and Whistling Gypsy were beautiful - this was the set dance I actually think she suited best. Fiona Gleeson won and she messed up her Kilkenny Races - she fell off her toes and came off crying,  the result wasn’t a reflection of the dancing on the day whatsoever. 2nd Was Stephanie Dickson, 3rd Jenna Armstrong , 4th Shannon Millar 5th Sarah Mulligan 6th Kyra Archibald 7th Clare Mckay and 8th Naomi McAuley (She was Royal Tara and the Ulster Champion in her age group - she slipped in her KOTF).  There were a few others who should of been apart from Zoe, like Marianne and Emma McKeary (Dominic Graham) for example.  However Dominic and Denise were outraged at the result, they were right at being so this day. Denise commented about Jenna Armstrong also and said the choreography in her Aoibhell was awful - “there's Jenna Armstrong up there again with the god horrible set dance”. I thought Jenna was good, she had a bit of a carriage problem but other than that she was pretty solid.

Leading up to this I was getting quite frustrated in class at the time. Denise had not given me any new material and I thought I stood no chance of winning with some of the girls and boys in my group. At the same time, she was teaching all my steps to Zoe and the girls her age, so they were making progress whilst I was staying the same and other dancers like Holly Sweeney or Catherine Lamont (she and Kyra are the Innova teachers now) were over taking me. I was lucky if I got dancing at all, sometimes I only got to do 1 or 2 dances - I was barely being taught. All the other dancers my age at quit and the only older dancer I had to aspire to was Joanna Neilly - who was at university at Oxford most of the time. I had being doing the same set dance for nearly 3 years on top of this and was really bored of it - I wanted to learn “The Reaper” or “Haunting the Castle”. I also wished to do more festivals.

I had quit most of my other hobbies by this stage, I only did Irish dancing and Piano and Scouts (was still being forced to unfortunately)- whilst I use also do Ballet, Gymnastics, Fiddle, A brass instrument (french and tenor horn), choir, speech and drama, whilst my sisters did more and did more competitions and displays as a result. My mum thought because of this, I could maybe do an extra festival to balance things out and since I was Denises longest dancer, her first dancer to get into Prizewinners, first dancer to win a championship (even if it was just boys), and had been helping teaching for her she would be okay with this. I explained this to Denise and she seemed okay with it to me. However then she didn’t just enter me, she entered my sister and a few other dancers also to Portstewart festival.

Margo Brown was adjudicating - she was the piano player at the mulholland festivals. She took over the Mulholland school and use to teach Denise when Patricia died. I went and got nothing all day, Miss Graham, who is Dominic Graham's teacher (not related), was watching and sitting near me and she was saying she liked my dancing and thought I should of been getting placed. Catherine Lamont won the reel and Robyn Friel won the championship, I remember Sarah Laverty and Hollie Thompson were doing well. Zoe on the other hand did really well and won the championship (that was her first win), I was happy for her, since she should have been placed in the Northern Irelands, Fiona and Stephanie weren't there but there would of been other good dancers from the North Coast that would of been there.

When I look back at this however, being less naive to the politics, I understand that Denise obviously being friendly with Margo maybe asked her to give her the championship and not to place me, with the way I was being treated in class, was this Denise Catney and her friends trying to give me a “Kick in the Teeth” for wanting to do modern tricks? Was she trying to get rid of me, but as my mum was helping her couldn't?  Or was it something to do with Niamh Hunt? I was getting really close to winning a championship (with girls in it) or doing well in the Northern Irelands and all of a sudden I wasn't getting anything.


  1. Do you read your writing back and reflect on what it says about you as a person? You really do not come across as a very nice person at all.

    1. How so? When I was in primary school and didn't invite the chubby kids - I was only a child and didn't understand what I did and why I was doing this. More will be explained on that matter later.

  2. That's one example. I took some time to read some of your other posts and really wish I hadn't. You seem to have some quite worrying views...particularly towards women and domestic violence. If I we're you I would be very careful having some of these posts freely accessible online under your name ( and picture) as any future employer could see these and it could harm your career prospects.

    1. Please highlight and explain my view on this - all I did was explain that domestic violence is sometimes not black and white. Actually to discrimatine against someone due to their political views is illegal and it is you I would thus have the concern with your future employment.

    2. The "eyes will see what they want to see" - it is amazing how people can have selective reading/hearing then twist your words. I have not ever said domestic violence was ecceptable all I did was explain that it sometimes isn't black and white and that men don't report it as much as women.


  3. Indeed, you are correct in saying it is illegal to discriminate again someone for their political views. However, what you are publishing are, in the main, personal not political views. The language used and the tone of your writing comes across as very derogatory - particularly towards women. Over 90% of employers 'google' potential candidates and I have a number of examples of where employers have chosen not to interview/offer the position to someone because of something they have seen online.....many of which were writing far less offensive things than you do. Consider this some friendly advice......I've seen many a young person lose out a job they would be great at because of silly things they've put on the internet.

    1. Thank-you for your advice, but in this instance it has not been taken on board.

    2. It is easy to state this sort of thing anonymously, I would have more respect if you revealed your identity and said it to me personally - if you are not a coward.

  4. Absolutely your call as to whether you choose to listen to any advice you're given. Your're an adult who is capable of making his own decisions.

    I have chosen to remain anonymous as I don't want my name to be linked to your blog in any way. I was commenting for two reasons......i find it very hard not to comment when i see people writing about women the way you do and I particularly found your opinions on domestic violence troubling especially as this is an issue very close to my heart. Misinformed views like yours need to be challenged.

    However, another part of me was commenting because I feel that you aren't doing yourself any favours by writing what you do in the way you do and as this is something I see regularly with young people I work with i wanted to offer you some advice....which of course you are within your right to ignore.

    Best wishes

    1. I have not in any way said that domestic violence was acceptable - you have misread it. Thus I am not going to take on your advice.

  5. I never claimed you said it was acceptable...I said I had issues with your views. When you write things like 'Generally speaking people are not violent towards each randomly or purely because of their gender; there is normally a reason for the assault. Domestic violence normally occurs due to an argument' you are demonstrating a serious lack of understanding of the issue. Domestic violence DOES happen for no reason and your views border on victim blaming. However, I will take comfort from the fact that the quality of your writing is so poor and the image you portray is bordering on ridiculous I can't see anyone actually taking you seriously. I'm going to put your views down to an unwillingness to get a true understanding of an issue before spouting your uninformed views and opinions.

    1. Yes I said "generally speaking" - meaning that not all the time. Sometimes domestic violence can happen for more reason, but usually it is not as black and white as that - nothing always is. My mum - if either of my siblings hit/kicked each other, although she was angry with us for being violent, she would ask what we did to make them do that. There is usually a cause for the domestic violence. You don't normally get into a fight with someone for absolutely no reason.

  6. This is what I mean by you not understanding the specific issue of DOMESTIC violence and how it differs from other types of violence. A friend of mine was stabbed to death in her sleep by her husband simply because she asked him to leave as she could no longer live with his controlling behaviour. They hadn't argued that night, she'd simply told him she wanted to end the relationship. I have spent time with victims of domestic violence and have heard stories of women who have experienced violence simply because their partners didn't like what they were wearing, or because the kids were noisy ...even because they didn't like what they had made for dinner! Domestic violence is primary about control and usually ( but not exclusively) a bigger, stronger male exerting control over a woman. You can't compare this type of violence to sibling fights, fights in pubs etc.

    And before you comment ...I understand that there are male victims of domestic violence but the premise is the same... somebody using physical force to control someone.

    Please be more mindful before publishing uninformed opinions

    1. Ahh, you see but I'm sure this instance is rare - most people don't get stabbed by their husbands whilst sleeping. As you have been directly affected by this instance - so have your views. I know in some cases domestic violence can be unwarranted but, again there are two-sides to every story and from listening to the "victim" you are only hearing one. It would be interesting to hear the other side of the story too, to see if they instigated anything.

  7. are an ignorant idiot.
    I suggest you take a look at the Refuge website and educate yourself. 2 women are killed every week by a current or ex partner so it is common and my friends experience isn't as rare as you think .....but it's okay as they probably asked for it right?? Shame we can't ask those women what they did to make their partners kill them.

    In ALL cases domestic violence is unwarranted. There is never, ever a reasonable reason for it taking place.
    I just thought you were an idiot now I think you're a dangerous idiot. You need help

    1. You are manipulative psyhco - I had not once said, domestic violence is okay, nor that it is warranted. I have just stated it is sometimes more complex than what meets the eye and there are two sides to every story.

    2. You have def hit a nerve with this guy is not a victim of bullying but actually more of a bully himself I have seen first hand some of the threats he has made against people especially women on social media forums. I would take anything he writes with a massive lump of salt

    3. Which threats have I made against women on social media platforms.

    4. I fear you're right. His attitude towards women is worrying but his views on domestic violence are disgraceful and demonstrate a real lack of reasearch, understanding and intelligence. The worst thing is he doesn't see it! And refuses to acknowledge when someone more knowledgeable pulls him up about what he has written. However, part of me thinks he writes what he does just to get a reaction ....but fails to realise that once you put something on a public platform it can/will come back to haunt you!!

      I've never known an ego like it!

    5. An anonymous comment could be anyone - who exactly is someone "more Knowledgeable" you sound like my dad - who is in alternative medicine - not more knowledgeable of violence towards women. It is opinion journalism please remember that.

    6. You're playing a bit fast a loose with the term 'journalism' aren't you! lol

  8. Okay....I've obviously touched a nerve. My final points before I stop wasting my time on you.

    1. You need to start researching the facts behind your posts. Unsubstantiated opinions and sweeping generalisations will not win you any fans or allow you to be taken seriously as a writer. It may also stop your writing being misinterpreted and being perceived​ as the ramblings of an uneducated, troubled young man.
    2. Buy a dictionary, learn proper grammar... Poorly written posts instantly turn people off. (And look up the definition of manipulative psychopath while you're there 😂)
    3. Stop using words you don't understand. It undermines your writing and makes you look uneducated.
    4.learn some humility...admit that your posts can be easily misinterpreted ( a symptom of your writing style) and apologize for any offence you may cause. That is a sign of maturity.

    I sincerely hope your posts don't come back to haunt you in the future and I hope you can reflect on some of the advice offered by a professional.

    Best wishes

    1. I understand that you misinterpreted something I have written....

  9. Adam,

    Whilst I appreciate you informing all three readers of your nonsensical outpourings that the girls in school fancied me, a heads up 10 years ago would have been cause for celebration. Perhaps you tried to tell me but I was at the orthodontist at the time, damn braces. Regardless, your detectable jealousy of my stature in St.Pats is misplaced as I can sure you that I was, and am, completely useless at football.

    We all go through challenging periods in our lives. Regrettably, as a young 'Chav' I donned the white tracksuit and terrorised the mean streets of South Belfast. I suggest you seek therapy before the men in white coats come for you.

    Kind Regards,

    Ryan McAlinden

    1. O well, at least the Tory's are in power... despite Ms O'Hare telling me to "get my life together" I still get an A at her dismay.

  10. Proof that what you publish online can and will come back to haunt you......

    Be mindful and think about your future

  11. You are an absolute cretin fuck off and get a life

  12. Haha oh dear. Someone has gotten out of the wrong side of the bed this morning. Another fine example of your true character.

  13. You do realise that YOU are a bully, and it seems you always were.

    1. It's easy to make comments like this anonymously

  14. Great post blog, so interesting and thanks for sharing!



Thank-you for your opinion!