Irish Step Dancing Costumes: Individual Experiences

Figure 1.--The boys involved in Irish dance often did so because their mother was especially interested. Often they had sisters that were involved. The boys report highly varied assessments of their exoeriences..

Some HBC readers have provided us information on their personal experiences concerning Irish step dancing. For many the kilt costume was an important part of the experience. So far the comments have come from Ireland, but large numbers of children did Irish dancing in America and other countries. There are probably more Irish dancers in America than Ireland. We hope to eventuallly hear from them as well to add their own experiences about dancing.

Irish Boy in Scotland--Patrick

I had a foot in both camps having Irish parents and living in Scotland. Dancing was something we kids had to do. I did Irish Step and Highalnd dancing until I was in my teens. I started at 4 years and danced in kilts until I was about 14. It was lots of fun though you did get teased by some of your friends as you got older. Because we did not have a lot of money my dancing was sponsored by an irsh club and a union. I usually got to wear my sisters old kilts because she was older. I took part in a lot of competition and sometimes won prizes.

Irish Boy--Ken

I came across your site while doing a search for Irish dancing Top lister in google. It brought back old memories of the trials and tribulations of wearing the kilt. I am 35 years old. I grew up in the Gaeltacht area. My Dad was a farmer and my Mum was a secondary school teacher. She taught Irish, English and music and Irish dancing at the school. She was always into Irish traditions and folklore. So from the day that I was born it ws understood that I would do Irish dancing.

American Boy--John

My parents were both Irish. My mother loved anything Irish. She had done Irish dncing as a girl. When I came along she was determined that I should do Irish dancing as well. I don't recall having any objection to it when I began at age 6. Later I came to enjoy the dancing. I didn't at all, however, like the idea of wearing a kilt. Despite mom's explanation about kilts and Irish and Scottish warriors, to me it was just a skirt. There was no getting around thekilt as my dance school required it as part of the costume. Some boys from other schools wore black long pants which I would have liked. But mosts boys wote kilts and at my school there was no choice. Besides my mother loved to see me in it. We finally reached a compromise. I did not have to put on the kilt at home or while traveling to out of town feises, but would change once we got to the feis. I would quickly change out of my kilt after the last competition that I had entered. It wasn't a bit deal at the Feis itself. I was most concerned that my friends at home not see me wearing a kilt. Mon wasn't to happy about this arrangement. I think she would have liked to show me off to the neighbors. I was rather insistent on the issue and she was willing to compromise.

Irish Boy in England--Michael

An English reader tells us, "I 'm not from an Irish family so can't really comment at any length. I do remember, however, that a mate of mine - Michael - used to have to go Irish dancing on a Saturday morning and was really embarrassed about having to wear a kilt. His sisters used to comment on it but he'd never show it to me. But he did have one - even when he was 10. His mum wanted him to try out the dancing and bought him all the stuff. He didn't like it at the time - but his dad also agreed with his mum so he had to do it. I never saw him in his kilt because he thought I'd laugh at him - even though we dressed up in all sorts of clothes for play. I think his brothers weren't so pressured into Irish dance but there was a revival in England in the 1970s andd he was then the youngest boy." Our English reader has provided us more information himself and his best friend Michael.


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Created: January 20, 2003
Last updated: March 25, 2004