Only 1% of Irish dancers qualify for the World Irish Dancing Championships, among them are high class Leitrim dancers.
As a large local group of Irish dancers prepare for the Nationals on June 23, they have among their ranks a number of World Championship medals.
Children from Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon, Dublin, Carlow, Meath & Westmeath dance for the O' Neill Geraghty School of Irish dancing.
The school took home 22 World Medals, 12 in the solo competitions and 8 in the ceilis. The majority of these medals were brought back to Leitrim homes.
More than 5,000 elite Irish dancers from more than 20 countries were in Dublin at Easter to compete in the 2017 World Irish Dancing Championships at the Citywest Hotel.
Solo dancers had to compete in groups of up to 220 international dancers.
Dancers at competition level need to practice 3-4 times a week. Dance teacher Tracey O'Neill said “fitness levels keep getting higher” and dancing at the “elite” level takes much dedication and as well high athletic levels.
Tracey who runs dance classes in Gorvagh and Rooskey as well in as Roscommon and Dublin with Brian Geraghty says children start as young as 3 and a half years old. She said football teams love to take on dancers as they are guaranteed very fit girls and boys.
While many will have dabbled in Irish dancing for some time while at school, Tracey says the competitive side of Irish dancing is very popular and girls and boys put in huge dedication to just qualify for World Irish Dancing Championships.
While the hobby can sometimes get bad press for young girls wearing make up and wigs, Tracey said this attire is only for elite competitions.
The Irish Nationals will be held in Citywest Hotel, Dublin on June 23, 24 and 25.
The competition gives dancers the chance to qualify for the World Championships in 2018.