Bolger Cunningham School of Irish Dancing
The Bolger School of Irish dancing was founded in the early 1960’s by Mairín Bolger. Mairín was one of the first irish dancing teachers in the North West of England and she taught literally hundreds of children in her time passing on her love of irish dancing to many of us. Mairín ran the class until ill health forced her to retire in 2002, and Kathleen Cunningham passed her teachers exam that same year (TCRG) and took over the class.
Bolger Cunningham School of Irish Dancing is first and foremost a cultural organisation which has had its home in Liverpool Irish Centre since 1999 when it first opened its doors. We currently have 50 children between the ages of 4 and 18 who attend classes here twice a week. We are dedicated to passing on an element of Irish culture to the younger members of our community and enabling them to show off their culture and talent in as many ways as possible. We teach individual step dancing but also teach a lot of ceili and figure dances too. The emphasis in our class is also to have fun, enjoy some exercise whilst learning to work as a team, and improving self-esteem and confidence.
All the teachers with our school are former pupils of Mairin Bolger, and have some fantastic memories of our time as dancers. We hope to help create the same memories for our dancers today. We encourage pupils to pass along the art of Irish dancing and therefore we have some of our senior dancers who also assist us in our classes.
We take part in many displays throughout the year, mostly within Liverpool Irish Centre. Some of our dancers also travel across the North West to competitions (feis) but overall, we are a non-competitive school. We dance in school fairs and old people’s homes. We have danced in the Lord Mayors parade and the annual Charity Ball in Liverpool Town Hall. We have danced on all the main stages in the city including the Empire Theatre, the Philharmonic and the Royal Court and danced alongside a professional Irish dance troupe as part of the show ‘Rhythm of the Dance’ at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton. We take part in the Liverpool Irish Festival every year including a day of concerts in the Museum of Liverpool in which the whole class takes part.
We are great friends with the Sliabh gCua set club in Dungarvan Co Waterford and for the past 40 years have engaged in an exchange programme where we travel to visit them and in the intervening years, they travel to spend a weekend in Liverpool. These weekends give a wonderful chance for both groups to dance and play music together and learn from each other. Many new and long lasting friendships have been made.
We pride ourselves in being one big team and we have very supportive parents and families who are always thinking up ways to help fundraise for the various things we get involved in.
We always welcome new members to the class – we take dancers from age 4 upwards on Saturday mornings (termtime) from 10.00am. Parents are expected to stay and have a cuppa and some toast and a chat with other parents whilst your child has fun in the class.
We are delighted to have our home here in Liverpool Irish Centre and will always do all we can to help support and ensure it is here for years to come for many more generations of irish dancers.