ASHBY/GROTON — Four dancers from the Flying Irish Studio, with locations in Ashby and Groton, will be heading to Killarney, Ireland, this month to compete in the All Ireland Championships of Irish Dance.
Liam Toomey, 8, and Eilish Ferrara, 12, both of Groton, Stephanie DeLaRosa, 13, of Leominster, and Tatiana O’Hanlon, 16, of Ashby, will compete in a ceili (traditional team dance) and in individual competitions.
It won’t be the first time at the All Irelands for team captain Tatiana O’Hanlon. In 2013, Tatiana won 5th place in the Preliminary Championship competition and 21st in the Open Championship competition.
“I feel more prepared this time,” Tatiana said. “I know what the competitions will be like and I’ve been working really hard. Honestly, I feel pretty good about the All Irelands this year.”
While Tatiana O’Hanlon has grown up doing Irish Dance (her mother is the teacher and artistic director of the Flying Irish), the road to the All Irelands has not been as direct for Stephanie DeLaRosa.
“I saw Irish Dance when I was five and I fell in love with it,” said Stephanie. “Because I am a first generation Mexican-American, Irish Dance wasn’t something my family knew about. I played soccer instead, and joined the Flying Irish 3 years ago. I don’t know, but I’ll probably be the only Mexican at the competition. I’m proud to be able to represent my country and my heritage in Ireland.”
Eilish Ferrara will be combining the competition with a chance to visit cousins in Northern Ireland during her first trip to Ireland.
“I’m thrilled to go and compete,” she said, “and I know how lucky I am to be able to do it. It’s cool that my Irish cousins will be watching me doing Irish Dance in Ireland.”
No matter the outcome of the competitions, Liam Toomey is sure to have a memorable time at the All Irelands — he turns 9 on June 24, the day he has most of his competitions.
“I’m nervous and scared and excited, all at the same time,” Liam said. “I’m really looking forward to our vacation, too, when I’ll see the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle.”
The Flying Irish Studio offers classes for dancers ages 4 though adult and hosts competitions open to all Irish Dancers (regardless of affiliation) in Fitchburg and Leominster. Some of the dancers the Flying Irish team will meet in Ireland will be heading to the Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg to compete in the New England Championships on Nov. 5. For information, go to www.irishstepdancing. com.