A Letter from Ireland:
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Have You Had Your Riverdance Moment?

Many have seen the wonderful Irish music and dance production Riverdance.  In this letter, we will address the feeling that watching a such a cultural extravaganza has on the audience that shares in the heritage presented.

Céad Míle Fáilte – and welcome to your Letter from Ireland for this week. How are things going with you today? Now, let’s jump back to a time 22 years ago – the place was Dublin City, and the event was the “Eurovision song contest”.

Have You Had a Riverdance Moment?

The Eurovision song contest is one of those “love it or hate it” institutions here in Ireland. Each year, a song is entered from each country in Europe (that’s quite a few these days!) – and the main event is televised to hundreds of millions of households across the continent each April.

Back in 1994, Ireland was on quite a winning streak! We had already won the contest for two years in a row, and were on the way to win the competition for a third time. But, that’s not what we want to talk about today. The other benefit of winning the competition is that the country also gets to host it the following year, and choose the interval act.

The interval act in 1994 was about 8 minutes long. It was composed by Bill Whelan and featured two Irish American dancers called Michael Flatley and Jean Butler. The interval act was called Riverdance.

Would you like to see what that first sighting of Riverdance looked like? Here we are:

That final “Irish Chorus Line” always gets me going, how about you?

Of course, Riverdance (and Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance) went on to become huge sensations over the coming years, and are still touring continuously today.

Have you ever seen “Riverdance” or “Lord of the Dance” in your home town? Do comment below and let me know.

Feeding the River of Irish Heritage.

Such an amazing entrance onto the world stage demonstrates the heritage that Ireland has to share with the world. We are a people who love music, story, entertainment, company and “the craic”. And we love sharing it with others.

Riverdance reminded us that Irish Heritage could be modernised and shared in an inspiring and accessible way. It strengthened the ties between so many of the Irish Diaspora – people of Irish ancestry all over the world – who smiled as they tapped their feet and said: “That represents me and where my people come from”.

Now, I must admit, when we started with “Your Irish Heritage” we didn’t really know what we were doing! We saw people of Irish Ancestry ask questions on Facebook, and we felt “hey, we live in Ireland – perhaps we should answer a few of those questions”. So, we did. Then we started this “Letter from Ireland”, wrote some books, and started The Green Room.

Like Riverdance, we want everything we do at Your Irish Heritage to help “bring your Irish Ancestry to life” in a way that is meaningful, educational and fun.

How are we going to do this? Well, over the last year we asked our Green Room members the question:

“What EXACTLY are you looking for regarding your Irish Ancestry.”

We received hundreds of replies, but noticed that many of the same answers kept coming. We then condensed these answers into a “Bill of Irish Ancestry Rights” – our way of capturing the desires and aspirations of people of Irish ancestry all over the world.

Some of the items are simple and can be dealt with quickly, others are complex – and may take a lifetime of discovery. Here we go – our cut at a Bill of Irish Ancestry Rights:

Our Bill of Irish Ancestry Rights.

All persons of Irish descent around the world have the right to:

  1. Know which of the surnames in their family tree are Irish.
  2. Know what their Irish surnames mean, their heritage and the part of Ireland they come from.
  3. Know the specific details of the Irish ancestors in their family tree, and where those individuals come from.
  4. Know what life was like for their Irish ancestors.
  5. To see the places of their Irish ancestors and to walk their land and homestead.
  6. To connect with their living Irish relatives.

Which of these aspirations matter the most to you? Did we leave any important ones out?

We have decided to align everything we do with each of these six areas:

So, we hope you are enjoying our journey of discovery along the “River” of Your Irish Heritage. Together, we look forward to sharing many more “Riverdance moments” going into the future!

We hope you have a great week. As always, do feel free to comment below if you want to share a story, a surname, ask a question – or just want to say hello!

Slán for this week,

Mike and Carina : )

  • I’ve only watched “Riverdance” on television, but was in the 2nd row at New York, New York in Las Vegas for “Lord of the Dance”, and it was magical

    • Carina says:

      Yes Michael Flatley went on to create his own show Lord of The Dance after leaving Riverdance. What a talented dancer.

  • Wonderful. Although I have not seen this personally I have watched t.v. performances. Gets your feet and heart racing.

  • Helen McKinley-Ricardo says:

    I always enjoyed Riverdance on TV, but was really pleased when I got to see them in person when they came to Boston around the late 90’s. Unfortunately Michael Flatley could not make it, but it was great anyway. Loved it.

    • Carina says:

      Helen, Nobody in Ireland will ever forget the moment we saw the first ever performance of Riverdance during the interval of The Eurovision Contest. We knew we were seeing something unique and so it proved to be.

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