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Boston set for a dancing spectacular

By Ed Forry, January 7, 2013

The region’s thriving Irish dance community has had four years to prepare, and now the clock is ticking toward a huge event being hosted by Boston in March – the annual World Championship of Irish Dance, an eight-day event that will run from March 24 to March 31 at the Hynes Auditorium.

 Considered the most prestigious and largest Feis in the world, the annual event will bring upwards of 6,500 Irish dancers to Boston from all over the world, including contingents from Ireland, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Dancers will compete in age-grouped competitions from under 11 to senior level (dancers over 21 years old.) The program will include Ceili and Figure Dance competitions as well as Dance Drama. Separate competitions are organized for male and female competitors in solo events, and also sections for mixed and unmixed teams.

Sponsored and organized by An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha (The Irish Dancing Commission,) Boston and the Hynes Convention Center won the event over 20 other cities around the world. It is just the second time for these championships in the United States and the first time they have come to Boston. Glasgow, Dublin and Belfast hosted the last three annual events. In 2009, Philadelphia was the venue.

The news of the Boston award was first reported in these pages in 2009. Speaking about the events at that time, Jim Rooney, executive director of the Hynes and the Mass Convention Center said, “We’re so pleased to be bringing this unique event to Boston. We were in competition with Chicago and other big cities, and we won based on our award-winning facilities, our top-tier service and – we admit it – being the most Irish city in America. “

“Ireland has a long association with Boston, and the strength of Irish dancing in the city and its environs is a very tangible illustration of its bond with Ireland,” said An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha spokesman Seamus O’Se. “One could almost say that, as far as the decision on a venue 2013 World Championships was concerned, this was a one-horse race. We are looking forward to working closely with the people of Boston  to make this the greatest Irish Dancing event ever”.

State Senator Jack Hart added, “As a father of four Irish step dancers, I can fully appreciate the level of excitement with Boston being chosen as host to this world class competition. Young dancers from all over the globe must qualify to participate in this event. I welcome these dancers to our great City of Boston.”

The event is expected to generate 17,800 hotel room nights in Boston and an estimated $11 million in economic impact to the city and Commonwealth.

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 The Boston Irish Business Association (BIBA) has announced a full slate of events for the new year, including a series of monthly meetings to connect local business people with their counterparts from Ireland. The first in the speaker series takes place at 6 p.m. on Wed., Jan. 17, when Bob Coughlin, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, will be featured speaker at the Algonquin Club in Boston’s Back Bay.

 Other BIBA events in the new year include an awards breakfast on March 14, and a five day trade mission to Ireland (April 29-May 3). More details at bibaboston.com.

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Just after US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney stepped down from that post in early December, the Associated Press reported that he and his wife Patricia made a long, sad journey back to Pittsburgh for the funeral of their daughter, Rita Marie Rooney, who passed away on December 1.

Ms. Rooney was a resident of Milton where she served as the Director of Faith Formation at St. Elizabeth’s Church and was attending Boston College for a master’s degree in theology. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Pittsburgh Law School, she had practiced law in Pittsburgh, Dublin, and Boston. The 54-year-old Rooney leaves her son, Alexander Conway of Boston. A memorial Mass will be held in the new year at St. Elizabeth’s church.

 Ed Forry is the co-founder and publisher of the Boston Irish Reporter. Contact him at edforry@bostonirish.com