Monday, 12 June 2017

A brief Autobiography: How Irish dancing went from being a hobby into a passion into an obsession. Part 10 , 11 & 12 combimed.

A brief Autobiography: How Irish dancing went from being a hobby into a passion into an obsession. Part 10 - My first year with Royal Tara, My parent's separation, crazy teenage parties, clubbing at 15 and my sister's suicide attempts. 

Eventually, my mum agreed to collect Suzanne and I, and her mum leave us up. I remember going to the class in Carrickfergus, Suzanne and I had split up but remained friends. It was in Sunnylands Community Center, which is a loyalist estate and was quite scary for me - especially being a Catholic and from quite a privileged background. The school's pupils come from a wide range of socioeconomic background and clashes between myself and some pupils enfolded. Most of the pupils in my own class were nice to me though - Suzanne, Kirsty (Jordan - Doherty-Petri), Ciara, Gillian and I were in the Carrickfergus class together, it was the pupils in the Larne class mostly which created the problems.  Kirsty often taught me steps - she had been dancing since she was a baby as all of her older siblings danced and were very good dancers, in particular, the eldest Kerry.

The teachers put me in “Reel shoes” and completely changed my style to make myself more masculine. Although a lot of festival adjudicators did not like this and saw it as “feis” and that the Royal Tara teachers were maybe being influenced by their son (Curtis Long) dancing for a feis school. They gave me a very technical set dance and it was a bit faster than what I was used to, hence why I struggled with the timing of it the first year, this is probably which I didn’t get many good results in the championships . Though I did do very well in my heavy solos - I was usually 1st or 2nd in that.  

Although I qualified in my first year for the Ulsters, which was quite impressive, I didn’t get placed, though i wasn’t that surprised because my timing in my set was going a bit. Same for the Northern Irelands, however, something kind of dodgy happened to me at the Northern Irelands  - I stopped half a step short in my light round, despite dancing till the end of my second step, which was what I was told to do. I wasn’t sure of what to make of this because some people have side steps etc in festival dancing which makes that more confusing.

Gillian won the Ulsters that year and I was very happy for her, despite that she had started to be a bit strange to me in class. She refused to do a three-hand with Suzanne and I was one example.

The result was 16-17 1st Gillian, 2nd Ashleigh 3rd Holly (she was given Lauren Smyths set dance “The Whirlpool”) & Catherine Lamont 4th Nicola Mitchell, Alice Nickell and Victoria McNamee 5th Conor Smyth. Natalie McAlister wasn’t placed which was a big shock.

Northern Ireland's: 15-17 : 1st Juliet Stirling 2nd Gillian 3rd Niamh Hunt 4th Conor Smyth 5th Suzanne Gray 6th Holy Sweeney and Megan Mccullough 7th Victoria Mcnamee 8th Natalie McAlister. I actually thought Niamh deserved to win that day. We got along okay after junior school - we had matured.


During this period of time my parents separated, it wasn’t that much of a shock to me, after my dad's mum died the things that my parents had been fighting about came to an eclipse. They separated temporarily for a while and got back together, my mum left on christmas day a year or two prior to this. The next year would prove to be crazy.  

I was allowed to have a party for my sixteenth - I could invite 50 people. It turned out to be 100s. Fireworks going off, lots of promiscuous behavior amongst teenagers, people crowd serving in my living room, one of my friends drank a whole bottle of aftershock and asked people to kill him. It was like something in a movie, it was like a “Skins” party. It was strange because people who I hadn’t seen in years had came and changed so much, it seemed like yesterday when i knew them as children and this seems like yesterday to me. It wasn’t a “sweet sixteenth” it was the sixteenth party from hell, but it was  a great party. I had lots of parties like this during this year and so did my sisters - none as crazy as that one though.

However my younger sister went a bit off the rails for someone her age. I think she found my parents splitting up harder than me and she acted out as  a result, she had been self-harming and then she tried to commit suicide twice. Even though she was "acting out", she was also being influenced by a movie she watched called "thirteen" - acting really silly and self-harming because she thought it was "cool". I didn't tell anyone about it at the time though.. She retained her title, and was very lucky she did. I think due to their being concerns over her well being at the time, it might of helped. My youngest sister got placed that year also - she was still in primary school.

This was all ongoing during my GCSE year of school. I hardly put pen to paper I was either on bebo, partying and going out clubbing - I actually went to "Skye" (an old nightclub in Belfast) the night before one of my exams. I use to be able to get served and get into clubs despite not usually having an ID and probably due to a mixture of reasons I was more interested in this than my GCSES - I was more interested in how many girls I could pull and how many shots I could take than how many As I could get. I was quite the "playa" and my v plates had definitely gone at this stage, between the ages of 15-17 I had been to virtually every club in Belfast. I somehow managed to still pass them all though, despite not even applying for extenuating circumstances. Though I was angry I didn't get all As, because I thought could just wing them.

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

Part 11: Continuation of Bullying in St. Pats from the end of 3rd year and with my crazy GCSE class (11-2), being forced to go to counselling and the start of my Tanorexia.

Bullying in my Junior school class was awful and some of the girls and boys were not impressed that I had a girlfriend before most of them or anything like that. One day when I texting Suzanne waiting in line to go into class, Emma  took my phone off me and then attempted to send nasty messages off it. She was an Irish dancer from An Comhdhail and she hated festival said it was “ a load of crap”, making fun of my "kick out to the side" in my King of the fairies. I snatched the phone back off her and it all kicked off we were screaming at each other for a good hour throughout our English class. 


Your tutor class changes after junior school depending on your GCSE subjects, and for the compulsory subjects, you are taught together with them. I knew that I didn’t want to be a doctor or anything like that so I choose single-award science and did what I thought would be “fun” subjects like Home Economics and Drama. Most of that class did geeky subjects.

The new class was mental,  it was quite a fun class to be in, but the teachers had a hard time controlling us. It was a bit of shock compared to 8-1, but at least they didn’t shout at me when I didn’t do my homework - nobody did their homework in that class. I can remember when our class had our religion coursework due, none of the class had done it and Ms. Hughes yelled “Take out your homework diaries, you lazy lot”, it was funny because it sounded like a biblical quote, something Jesus would have said to his disciples after that failed because they didn’t have enough faith. Most of that class were nice enough to me, accept from one group of boys a German boy  who had bit of Karma come to him very quickly. He videoed a girl in the year above me having anal sex at a party, without her knowledge and he accidentally shared it with a teacher, then he got suspended. Then his friends, one of them was in my primary school class, but he was also stoned a lot of the time.

Although some of my GCSE teachers hated me, I think they just saw me as being really spoilt and lazy and that frustrated them. It didn’t help that I was left to school in the Chrysler whilst most other people got the bus. My dad worked for two premiership football club and boys in my class said to me how it must be really cool, but I didn’t care - I hated football. I didn’t enjoy any of the sports they taught in PE - which was normally just football or gaelic football - I normally refused to play. It was really frustrating for me because i was one of the fittest in the class, I always finished top 3 in the cross country which we had to do at the start of PE some lessons. Although they didn’t ever allow me on the cross country team because the PE teachers didn’t like me either - “He thinks he’s something special” I can recall Mr O’Neil saying.

My maths teacher at GCSE despised me, Miss Nancarrow. She once shouted at me when i wasn’t in class - “Adam you're annoying me”  - I was at a festival. She marked all my 7s wrong and said they looked like 4s - I corrected her by showing that I put a line through my 7s, the old fashioned way, so you would know the difference, she refused to remark my papers.  She didn’t teach our class the higher paper so myself and two friends had to learn the rest of the syllabus a week in advance of the sitting the exam.  Only 2 people got As in that class from my knowledge, I got a B but close to an A, and I am pretty sure if she had taught the higher paper i would of got one.

I wasn’t exactly “roudy” but I was cheeky, well apparently questioning figures of authority is “cheeky”, i still can’t understand this. So a lot of other teachers like my Home Economics teacher, Miss McGeeney, I didn’t stick to her recipes on what was on the syllabus. and my business studies teacher Miss White - i was told to “put that in your pipe and smoke it” by her.

I had become quite atheist at this stage, I got the highest in the English talking and listening exercise for my "Speech" when i criticised the inconsistencies in the bible and was  the first to refuse to receive communion in school mass (recieving lots of dirty looks for doing so) and was asking my religion teacher controversial questions - this resulted in her putting me in counselling. Which is strange because even though i denied that I was depressed in any way, under the surface with family events and bullying i was very depressed. So she was right in a way to do that.  I also had to tell that my friend was self-harming and was suicidal so he had to get counseling too. Evtually they let me out of counselling and I use to sing Amy Winehouse "Rehab" and change "rehab" to "counselling" - "they tried to make me go to counselling but I said no, no no." - my daddy thought I was fine.

I was almost expelled for having my blond highlights done, but I swiftly pointed out to the vice principle (Miss Sullivan) that it was "sexual discrimination" because of plenty if girls had their hair dyed, eventually after debating for some time she just told me to not have it dyed again.


During this time, from being on holiday I noticed that when i had a tan, my acne looked a lot better. So I began an obsession with being tanned, I would use the sunbeds at least every week, i would tell my parents I was going for a run, then cycle down to my nearest tanning salon, beside Sydenham - over a mile away from suburbia, and use them. Johnsons Holiday Skin lotion came out at this time, I didn’t think it was the same thing as “fake tan” though, I just thought it helped you be tan, and I was using it also and one day, non-school uniform day I was ridiculously tanned and everyone was nasty to me because of it - including Miss Nancarrow - who was always bright orange herself.

When i received my GCSE results 6Bs and 3 CS my parents were really angry. I actually did quite well in the exams, so I was right in some way I could just wing them.  I did attempt to revise for some of them, for example Religion but my file was such a mess that I gave up and decided to watch “Carrie” - that was on TV the night before, maybe the whole being possessed by the devil helped.  It was my coursework which let me down a lot. I was too lazy for it, and couldn’t be bothered re-editing it over and over again, for example, my lowest grade was Home Economics 50% coursework. As a solution, I didn’t do any subjects with Coursework in them for A-Level. I got enough points to get back in thank-god. A surprise was my B in french, Madame Caufield said to my mum that “we are  hoping Adam will just pass this subject”, she was a lot nicer to me at GCSE and was really happy I somehow, despite doing some foundation papers, managed to get a B.  About a third of that class didn't get back into school, I found out recently that one of them, Sinead, is now  a teacher, which is quite surpising, but at the same time you could tell she was very clever, she just wasn't that interested in studying at that time and obviously neither was I.

Part 12: Summer of 2007 - Malaysia with the family for my Granda Tans 70th, my first tour with Royal Tara, Prague for my Aux Pairs wedding and  London to see Prince.  And no fellow St. Pats Alumni - you did not like Prince in 2007, you liked Eminem or Green Day.

For my grandad's 70th the whole of my extended family went away to Malaysia for 3 weeks. We stopped in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on the way there - which has the biggest shopping center ever.  Then we went to Ipoh, Pangkor Island, Kuala Lumpur but spent the largest segment on Penang. We had a fantastic time and the older cousins and myself use to go to  a club in Penang and they use to play “Umbrella” and they use to bring out umbrellas. I also pulled a local "model" one night when I was in that club.

I remember the whole family at grandad tan 70th played “Yamm Sinn” we did shots of tequila whilst doing it. All the kids did irish dancing, for our Malaysia family, and I can remember I was too drunk to dance in time and was really upset. I started crying because I thought to myself that in ten years time, that was when we were planning on coming back, Granda might be dead and then other cousins started crying. My prediction was right - some of my family are going to Malaysia literally tomorrow to bring his ashes back home. 

One night I can remember I got really upset because I didn’t want to go back to school and my parents were going to make me. I told my older female cousin I didn’t want to go back and I wanted to go to stage school or do a music and dance course. I hated school.


From my knowledge, I was the first pupil ever to be asked to go away on tour with “Royal Tara” in their first year. We toured in Spain, Portugal, and Tenerife with other folk groups. I thought this would be fun and an excuse for a holiday, although it also turned out to be a bit of a nightmare at times.

I started to get bullied by the girls in my age group Gillian, Nicola, Kerrie and Nicole and the assistant teacher Lesley. Only I and Gillian had qualified for next years ulsters at “Glenravel” FDTA and I think this might of been part of the problem, however also being allowed to tour on my first year in the academy and culture clashes also didn’t help. I felt they stirred up a load of shit between myself and other pupils and the teachers, in particular, the “teachers pet” Jenna Hamill, who sometimes would have been against my sister - they stated that the only reason my sister and her friend Katie had beat her at Bangor was because they were from there, I obviously defended my sister against them. There were a lot of arguments. I made friends with some eastern European girls and they hated them as well.

I can’t imagine how stressful the whole predicament was for the teachers. Bringing 30 teenagers away on tour. Especially considering how easy it is to access alcohol in the continent. One night some of the teenagers got drunk and Ruth banned the girl from going out. But the boys who were my age and a bit older still managed to sneak out. This infuriated the girls more. 


It was my old Aux Paris wedding in Prague that summer. It was beautiful, we went sightseeing as well and went into a “Sex Machine Museum” - if you want to make sure your teenage son/daughter doesn’t get pregnant bring them there; it is sure to put you off sex for life.


My big sister and I then went to London to see Prince in the 02 arena. I had loved Prince for a long time. I got his greatest hits for Christmas a few years prior to this and couldn’t stop listening to him. My favorite was “When the Doves Cry”, “ I wanna be your Lover”, Let’s go Crazy” “little red corvette”. It really angers me now that only in a recent year people my age and younger started to like him. He was amazing though strangely we thought he looked a bit ill. Jade's friend and I had an entire suite to ourselves. I'm so glad i got to see one of my favorite artists before they died nearly all of them have died since: Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Michael Jackson and Etta James are some of my favourites to name a few. I hate that now people my age that claim they have "always been a Prince fan" when they havn't -  no fellow "ST. Pats alumni" you do not like Prince, Whitney Houston or Motown music - you like Eminem or Green day. And that's the way it goes for me, whether it be in Irish dancing, family, work or school life - I start doing something first get made fun for it then everyone starts to copy me and someone else get's the credit.



  1. Why do you feel the need to tell people you're from a privileged background? Normal people couldn't care less and it just makes you sound like a d**k. It probably contributes to why people don't like you very much.

  2. My favourite but it when you describe yourself as a 'playa' πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜Š chill out Kanye lol

  3. I do not have an issue with how you saw things in school. Although I was in your year I didn't know you or you class so cannot comment. However I dont think it is a particularly great idea to bring up your sisters failed suicide attempts. As someone who has had mental health issues, depression etc. As well as having a degree in the area, I think that such a personal struggle really shouldn't be broadcast to the world. That is for her to decide to so if she wishes. Someone does not try to commit suicide because they think it is cool, I'm sure it is highly insulting to her to insinuate her feelings were as shallow as that. Just a thought! If she gave you permission to include it having read it. I will happily retract.

    1. It's very complicated why I am writing about that now. It was 10 years ago anyway. She admitted she was attention seeking later.


Thank-you for your opinion!