Scotland and the World Irish Dance Championships

After we celebrated Brian’s grandmother’s 100th birthday, Stef, Madison, Kody, and I drove to JFK and then flew to Glasgow, Scotland for the World Irish Dance Championships.

I want to begin by thanking God for this amazing trip and also thanking everyone who generously contributed to our fundraising efforts. Because of family finances, this trip would have been impossible without us raising 100% of the funds needed. Stef and Madison worked hard training for their dancing, but in addition, they worked hard raising money to travel. God is good, and I’m excited to report that we raised all the money we needed. Worlds 2016 was 100% funded through fundraising. I am thankful.

A special thank you goes out to the girls’ teacher, Heather Mailey Esposito and the families and dancers at An Cor Rud (The Reel Thing School of Irish Dance). Thank you for your help, love, encouragement, and support, not just for Worlds but in life. You are an amazing group of people and I count it a blessing to call you my friends. Thank you to Lisa Burgess, JR Walker, and Sara Rhodes for help with extra practices for Worlds

We arrived in Glasgow mid-afternoon, checked in to our apartment in Center City right off of George Square, and then trekked to the Royal Concert Hall to meet up with friends from our dance school. We ate delicious fish and chips at Waxxy O’Connors that first night.

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Below is a street view of our cute apartment. Our location was great. We shopped at the local Sainsbury’s for groceries and were only a 5-10 minute walk from the dance venue.

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The day after we arrived, we watched our friend Maria dance and then headed to the Kelvingrove Art Museum where we enjoyed the art and ran into some friends from Maryland who were in Glasgow for Irish dance, too.

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No excursion is complete without a trip to a local coffee shop. Today we tried Urban Brew which was across the street from the museum.

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Monday night we cooked dinner for dance friends, and then Tuesday we all met up for the Hop-On Hop-Off City Bus which took us on an informative and historical tour through Glasgow. We got off at the University of Glasgow, did an impromptu photo shoot, and then visited the Mackintosh House. A delicious lunch followed at the Ubiquitous Chip.

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Wednesday was Madison’s day to dance at Worlds. She danced beautifully and got the “recall” to compete in the third round, which is the solo, set dance round. She finished the day 42 IN THE WORLD! I’m so proud of Madison for her hard work. About a year and half ago she was very discouraged with her dancing and had a decision to make whether to work harder or try something else. She decided to work harder and is currently 4th in the region, 5th in North America, and 42nd in the World.

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Thursday morning we boarded the train for Edinburgh and a hike up Arthur’s Seat. Though a bit cold and windy (we were in Scotland), we had a perfect day for our hike. After the hike we ate lunch at a traditional Scottish pub and then saw the castle and cathedral. We had hoped to tour the castle, but they stopped allowing visitors literally two minutes before we arrived.

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Since we couldn’t tour the castle, we hired a taxi to take us to one of the oldest pubs in the UK, established in the 14th century. The little inn was charming and was filled with locals welcoming family home and enjoying afternoon tea.

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On Friday we took a train to Stirling to pay homage to William Wallace. We hiked up the 426 stairs to the top of the monument and enjoyed all the display rooms along the way. It was very cold and windy on top, but oh so worth it.

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Lunch at Hermann’s was next (best Cullen Skink around) and then a walk around Stirling Castle and the graveyard.

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On Saturday, Stef competed in her last World Championships. After the 2014 Worlds Stef decided to stop competing, but then decided to return both because she missed it and because she felt like the 2014 Worlds did not receive her best effort. Though she recalled and placed in 2014, she had been studying in Spain the whole semester and had not had the time to practice or the attention from her teacher that she normally would have had. This year…it was different. Stef danced beautifully, and in a field of 200 qualified “over 21” ladies, she landed 12th IN THE WORLD! So proud of this girl and so glad we made one more Irish dance memory together. Seems right that the last place she danced internationally was also the first place she danced internationally. Closure.

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After Stef’s awards, Kody and Stef frantically transformed for the Worlds Ball. They were in such a rush I didn’t even get a picture of them. Here’s one Stef took with her phone. You know what they say, the best camera is the one you have with you. So thankful that Kody was able to share our Scottish adventure with us. Aren’t they a cute couple?

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Our taxi picked us up at the apartment at 4:30 AM on Easter Sunday after losing an hour due to Scottish daylight savings time. We had a quick flight to London followed by a wonderful flight from London to JFK via British Airways.*

Worlds 2016 was amazing, and I am thankful for the memories we made, thankful my daughters danced well and placed well, too. I am especially thankful for everyone who helped us get there through the many fundraising events we did: GoFundMe, dance-outs, selling YNot Pizza vouchers, selling ACR cups and water bottles, and people who just gave us money because they wanted to help. THANK YOU. Our trip, these memories would not have been possible without you!

The medal on the left is Stef’s. It’s a World Medal Holder Medal…small but it means something big. The medal on the right is Madison’s. It’s a World Recall Medal and is very meaningful, too.


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*End Note: Our trip to Norfolk from JFK, however, was anything but wonderful. In fact, it took us longer to get from JFK to Norfolk, VA than it did to get from London to JFK. What should have been a quick one-hour flight turned into a seven hour journey. We’re landing. No wait, why are we ascending? Why isn’t anyone telling us what’s going on? “Inclement weather?” Why are we the ONLY plane ALL DAY that didn’t land in Norfolk, including the ones that landed 4 minutes before and 4 minutes after ours? You’re not sure what we’re doing? We might run out of fuel? We’re being re-routed to Dulles? You’re getting us a bus? We need to wait two hours for the bus? You’re not going to get us dinner or food vouchers because it requires paperwork? Really? You don’t take any phone calls from concerned customers? Thanks American Airlines. Oh, and why have you not responded to either of my complaint emails I sent?

One thought on “Scotland and the World Irish Dance Championships

  1. This was very interesting. I started reading because I recognized Cody. He is my cousin Lora’s son and I got to reading and found it very interesting Congratulations to the dancers, Stef and Madison. This had to be a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing with us.
    P S. Happy Birthday to Grandma.

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