Tuesday, 6 June 2017

A brief Autobiography: How Irish dancing went from being a hobby into a passion into an obsession. Part 7, 8 & 9.

A brief Autobiography: How Irish dancing went from being a hobby into a passion into an obsession. 

Part 7, 8 & 9.

N.B this is all written from my perspective, everybody sees things differently and I don't claim my opinion to be fact. 
  
There were two festivals prior to summer after that - I missed my Piano theory exam because it classhed with the first one - Belfast Lagan. It was Alice Turner (Ollar) adjduciating and I got nothing all day again. Ashleigh won the championship, Gillian was 4th, then I remember Natalie did well with her two other Newcastle Dominic Graham friends, some of the solos were a double age group and some weren't. Daithi Fisher was there and he was winning with Hannah from Bentra - Hannah was a great technical dancer, good placement of feet and good at hitting her beats/clicks. I think Daithi then moved to CLRG after this to Doherty-Reid.

Belfast Mulholland was adjudicated by Donna Hamilton/Reid - she danced for Lilas Reilly/English.  The lights were separated into Champions and non-champions and the heavies were both togther then championship boys and girls. Chloe from Bangor, won the Champions dances and Charlotte from McKay (she had moved from Ollar), won the reel in the non-champions and I won the cup for any light jig for my single jig. Then when the champions and non-champions were into together I got second in my hornpipe - you see how with the champions together I was beating most of them and how frustrating this was. The Girls Championship was won by Liza from Kathy O’Connor, who was a non-champion for her Blackbird was very interpretive and I won the boys. I watched Zoe's section at this festival, her friend Jessica Carity won the under 10 championships and Zoe got 4th, I think Fiona won everything.

I became a bit of recluse socially for a year or two. I stopped going to my youth club and most of my other hobbies except Irish dancing, piano and scouts and was being very bullied in school. I started to play “The Sims” a lot and “Roller Coaster” tycoon. I was frustrated with everything: school, socially, Irish dancing, family. And I became very miserable and lazy. I started to get very bad acne and my dad would call me “Zit Face”. My dad did everything to try and stop my zits, he thought it was all diet related from eating too much sugar, which yes it definitely can help, but it was not considered that acne can also come on through stress or one’s diet can be affected by stress and that is what i believe it was mostly related to.


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Hollywood festival was back on that year, Sylvia Rice was adjudicating. Again it was separated from Champions and Non-Champions. Laura Norris won most of the champions dances, Gillian won her hornpipe. I can’t remember who was winning the non-champions, but I wasn’t doing great. I remember Lai Yan, from Kath O’Connor was back dancing again and she did well. I remember Jacqueline Jones danced and I hadn’t seen her dance in a good while.  I think Chloe Fraser won the championship, and a few of the McKay girls got placed. I think I got something in the single jig and second in the hornpipe.

That was the year we went to Australia, it was a great holiday, though of course plenty of arguments. We went to Sydney, Tasmania and Melbourne and a surfing town. When I got back that was the first time people accused me of wearing fake tan - i wasn’t, I was just very tan since it was summer in Australia.  I bought all my friends presents from the quiksilver shop in the surfing town. I remember my dad shouting at me for having spray on deodorant - I wasn’t allowed to wear it because he informed me it might give me cancer.  

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The next festival was Bangor Confined, Haley Graham was adjudicating. I didn’t do that well in my light dancing but I won the hornpipe. Conor Smyth won the championship, Suzanne Gray was second Chloe was 3rd and I was 4th.  I was sitting beside Suzanne that day and we were getting along. She went to school with Rhiannon to get her my number for me. At this stage I was finally allowed to share a mobile phone with my big sister - my dad had not allowed us to have them due to being bad for you. I think this was a further reason for contributing to my bullying.


Suzanne and I went on a date to Newtownards cinema and McDonald's, very glamorous. Two of her friends stalked us. During our initial date I said that Niamh was in my class and she was very angry at us going out “You're not going out with her - you're a fruit!” and I told her that she was an “Ulster Champion” after asking about the FDTA, she told me she wasn’t and that she had won the Ulsters 3 times and that Lee use to win it if she didn’t - he was a boy from Seven Towers who had quit. I was quite surprised by this after the bullying I felt I had endured from her.


 Part 8: My Granny Magee's funeral and some questionably biased results at the 2005 festival Northern Irelands



Around this time, my Granny Magee past away. She had a bad fall a couple of years previous. She was taken into care and we use to visit her in Newry, she would tell us she’d been out and about and we knew she hadn’t - she had a bit of dementia. She was a very funny character, very bossy, and use to give me sweets and tell me not to tell my dad.  I remember her wake like yesterday I sat in my Uncle Seamus kitchen and I mainly talked to Una, who I really liked and her youngest daughter Mary-Jayne. My dad was angry with me for what I was wearing - I wore a black shirt and dark jeans. He was annoyed I wasn’t wearing a suit - I hadn’t been bought one to wear.  He always seemed to find something to criticize me regardless if it was my fault or not.
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I attended Knockagh festival after and did very well in it - there was not a championship but a set dance competition. I got top 3 all day - from what I remember Claire (from Knockagh) and myself were winning. I was still doing the “King of the Fairies”, so Denise got me to do my heavy jig set dance for a change for a while “The Pipers Dream”  - it was really quirky choreography with fast boxes and I liked it but very short.  I wanted “The Reaper” but she kept on saying that she didn’t like the set and it was too long and too mature for someone my age. Zoe and Tulla both did well in their sections also.

Ballyclare was next I think, Leslie Baird was adjudicating. He was a Mulholland and he adjudicates in WIDA now also. His adjudication is quite fair he likes clean cut, smooth dancing rather than wild dancing. Juliet Stirling was winning and Carly Thompson and Suzanne were doing well - is was a double age group then split for the championship. Chloe and I use to go to school together and sometimes we would share lifts to festivals so we would have been quite friendly and we weren't getting anything that day. Though we both got 6th in the championship.  Natalie McAlister won. I can remember this was the first time Gillian did “Carrickfergus” or the first time I watched it - she was 4th In think and didn’t do very well other than that. I think Juliet won the younger championship and Suzanne was 2nd. I watched Zoe's section also, she didn’t get anything. Fiona Gleeson I think was winning and Sharon McGurk was doing well. Jenna Hamil mostly got 2nds.

Portadown Festival was next. Jackie White was adjudicating again I was angry about the Champions/Non-Champions split there were dancers in the Champions who I normally would have done better than. But I did well, I got something in all my solos, but not in the championship. I remember I had to stop in the hornpipe and asked for my music to be a bit faster as did Suzanne in hers. Victoria McNamee won everything. Niamh didn’t get anything as far as I can remember.

I can remember Jackie saying something along the lines of “I don’t know if I really like this or not” in regards to Gillians “Carrickfergus”. Denise would make comments like this often: “I don’t think Aoibelle the fairy women is very interpretive”, “Haunting the Castle is just a copy of the spell - something witchy”, “Deirdre's Lament is more like Deidre’s tantrums”. These are just a few things I can remember her stating in regards to these set dances Royal Tara and some other schools were doing.

She also made comments frequently about Stephanie and Fiona who were Zoe's competition, stating that she hated watching them as their dances weren't interpretive and were because it was “All about winning the Ulsters”. I can remember around this time Fiona had started to do the Slip Jig and I really liked it and she stated that was because I was “feisy”. I believe this was all said behind their teachers back. It use to annoy me also that she hardly ever watched my section despite being her first prize winner, first champion (with just boys in it) and I was help teaching in her class for a couple of years and wasn’t paid for it.

Julie Graham adjudicated Bangor open, I didn’t do very well - she didn’t ever go for me. I think Amy Lambe might of won the reel and Juliet won the championship - Niamh came second. The musicians messed up Gillians music and Julie thought she made a mistake. Suzanne and I would sometimes talk at the festival but i was very shy at this stage. We didn’t get to go on that many dates as she was always busy due to having so many hobbies. As far as I was aware the girls in school didn’t like her because she was good at so many things and was a bit of a swot. I watched Zoes section also, she got 6th in the championship, I think Jenna Armstrong won - she had just won the Ulsters and was dancing "Haunting the Castle".
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The Northern Irelands that year was a bit of a “farce” in my view. Even though i was dancing for a mulholland school I thought it was really unfair on the other schools. The adjudicators were Donna Revie (Muholland/Bangor),  Donne Reid/Hamilton (Muholland/Bangor) and Patricia English (I’m not sure). This was Tullas first Northern Irelands and there was maybe 50 under 9s.  I can remember who placed who which will probably shock you.



Donna Hamilton
Donna Revie
Patricia English
1st
Ellen (DG)
Christy (RT)
Rachel C (RT)
2nd
Lara (KOC)
Ellen (DG)
Ellen (DG)
3rd
Lai yin (KOC)
Lara (KOC)
Courtney (DG)
4th
Jude (RT)
Coturney (DG)
Jude (RT)
5th
Shannon (LR)
Ballnefiegh ?
Deborah (Ais)
6th
Niamh (Ais)
Laura (Bangor)
Paige (RT)



The result was 1st Ellen 2nd Christy, Rachel C, Lara, 3rd Courtney 4th Jude 5th Lai Yin 6th Shannon, Ballnefeigh, Deborah 7th Laura, Niamh, Paige

This is when they are young and there isn’t much interpretation or style going on to be subjective with and i couldn’t make sense of it. I watched the whole section and I thought Jude Murphy was amazing - she had won the Ulsters in her section and did Aoibhelle the Fairy Women which was easily the hardest set dance in the competition, she lost her timing a bit, however, due to her set dance being so much harder I would of let her away with it - She came 4th.  Judith Keyes should of been placed in my eyes that day. Denise thought Niamh should of been higher but she only was doing a begginers Pipers Dream compared to Jude who was doing a senior set dance.

My section was after I danced really well and thought i should have recalled and was told many other people said was robbed but i didn’t, but neither did Gillian, Chloe Fraser, Megan McCullough and i can remember Dominic was annoyed Victoria McNammee didn’t either - we gave Dominic a lift home because he didn't drive. I don’t think Catherine Lamont got one either.

The result was



Donna Hamilton
Donna Revie
Patricia English
1st
Niamh (KOC)
Juliet (IM)
Hannah (BNF)
2nd
Juliet (IM)
Conor (LR)
Juliet (IM)
3rd
Hannah (DG)
Nat(DG)
Ashleigh (BNF)
4th
Ashleigh (BNF)
Ashleigh (BNF)
Nat (DG)
5th
Conor (LR)
Niamh (KOC)
Hannah (DG)
6th
Nat (DG)




1st Juliet 2nd Niamh 3rd Hannah and Ashleigh (BNF) 4t Conor and Natatlie 5th Hannah Todd then after than: Sophie (IMC), Amy (IMC),  Sheilagh  (Bangor) and Suzanne (RT) got a recall but some were placed and some weren't. In the two blanks. Suzanne definitely wasn’t placed, they played her music wrong for her "Walk though the Glenn" - she was really angry. I remember going to get my comments and Donna Revie didn't have any and I said something like "No comment. Great!" and Gillian laughed at this.

I can remember the musicans played Hannah (BNF) “The Fisher Man’s Creel” wrong but played it fine for Juliet.Hannah was the Ulster champion in her age group and that is a very strange coinicide.  I really didn’t agree with the adjudication that day - I think part of the problem was there was about 15 of us on a similar level but I think it was biased in my opinion.


The  Zoes age group.



Donna Hamilton
Donna Revie
Patricia Enlish
1
Stephanie (LR)
Stephanie (LR)
Aisha (DG)
2
Katie (KOC)
Fiona (LR)
Fiona (LR)
3
Chris (McK)
Zoe (Ais)
Jenna (RT)
4
Zoe (Ais)
Emily (DA)
Twin (ST)
5
Kerrie (Bangor)
Katie (KOC)
Chris (McK)
6
Twin (ST)
Jenna RT
Luke (RT)


The result was : 1st Stephanie 2nd Fiona 3rd Aisha 4th Katie 5th Zoe 6th Chris 7th jenna 8th Twin 9th Emily 10th Kerrie 11th luke 12th Jenna (ballnefeigh), Sarah (ST) Twin 2(ST), Kerrie (KOC), Shannon (LR)



I was really happy that Zoe got placed and Stephanies recall "The Princess Royal" was fantastic but other than that some of the results were questionable in my eyes. Jenna Armstrong had just won the Ulsters and to not be placed and Jenna Hamill definitely should not of came 7th, I don’t believe she necessarily deserved to win that day but she shouldn’t of been any lower than 3rd or 4th. Donna Hamilton didn't place her and her adjudication between all three age groups it seemed apparent that she was favouring the mulhollands and their friends.  Denise though made a bit of fuss over Kaite beating Zoe because she made a mistake in her Deep Green Pool - I knew she had also because I knew the Mulholland choreography as my big sister Jade did it. But my thought was, you wouldn't necessarily of known if the other girls had due to this.


Part 9: My last year of competition with the Aisling school of dance and my decision to transfer to Royal Tara.


The next year of Irish dancing festivals did not go well. Denise couldn’t get a set dance to suit me and wasn’t teaching me any new material. I eventually learned a "Youghal Harbour" but I think it was mainly choreographed for Joanna Neilly, and I helped choreograph my own lead around in the reel.  I only seemed to do well at competitions that were not adjudicated by Denise’s friends, for example, I did well in the following Belfast Lagan, adjudicated by a feis adjudicator and Bangor open by an adjudicator from Larne - I placed top 3 in most of my dances in these competitions. All of Denise's friends stopped placing me on and on the contrary, the opposite happened for Zoe - they starting giving her championships and the following year she won the festival Northern Ireland's -  She danced brilliantly though and deserved to win, from a muholland festival irish dancers perspective.

It seemed like no coincidence and very unfair that they made all the age groups into single age groups, Zoes was (12-13) up to mine which was a double 15-17 then over 17s was senior. I didn’t get a recall and I should have done. The result in my age group was 1st Robyn Friel 2nd Deborah Gwynee 3rd Rachel Smyth 4th Natalie McAlister & Gillian Hodge 5th Vitoria McNamee 6th Catherine Lamont 7th Emma Dines. I know I should have maybe been between 4th-6th. I beat Gillian in Bangor and Belfast Lagan and prior to this would have done similarly to Victoria and Catherine, the girl in 7th would of not of beat me, from my recollection anyway - her "Little Heather Hill" had nice intepretation, but she wouldn't of been of the same sort of technical standard as myself. The top 3 all danced very well and were in the older age group.  I remember at my last Belfast Mulholland festival, Patricia Mulholland niece was in watching and said I should have been winning. Margo (the piano player) made a real snarky remark about it and said she thought she owned festival (talk about the pott calling the kettle balck) and was an alcoholic.



I soon decided after this to move to Royal Tara.My mum wasn’t very happy about this and said that she wouldn’t have anything to do with my dancing and I would have to get myself there and back. Suzanne said she could give me a lift since she was from Comber and literally drove past my house - the class was in Carrickfergus, which for a festival Irish dancer seemed like quite a distance to travel to class.  Denise actually spoke to June (the original teacher - the granny) about me moving. I remember I was really excited and was practicing doing the bicycle jumps on holiday which I saw Gillian do at Belfast Lagan and Suzanne showed me when she was a bit drunk at one of my small house parties. It was a really hard move for me but I knew it was the right one.

4 comments:

  1. What does your sister think about you writing about her suicide attempt on your blog?

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    Replies
    1. It was ten years ago. But at the time, she basically told everyone and self-publicized the whole ordeal over "bebo" and showed off her "scars" to her friends as if she was proud of it at the time. Now she is a lot maturer and can probably look back at it and realize how silly she was being. She is a lot more maturer now than what she was then.

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    2. She was very influenced by a movie called "thirteen" at the time.

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  2. I was close to your sister at the time this happened. Not once did she share photos of her scars or publicise what happened. It actually took us a while to get her out and go to parties again as she actually seemed quite embarrassed about the whole ordeal. It seemed that she was in fact so embarrassed that it caused her to move schools and completely change friendship groups. It sounds like you like dramatise things to make your blogs more entertaining. It's really sad. I hope if Zoe has seen this she has forgiven you for publicising what must be such a personal matter for her. No matter how long ago it was. Shame on you.

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Thank-you for your opinion!