Celebrating Community through Irish Dance

Saint Patrick’s Day is one time in the year when everyone can be Irish! Ask your community if they would like to see Irish dancers, and they may just come out of the woodwork. Add in a fun craft project and some lively music, and you have a program that will be enjoyed by all ages!

We are fortunate to have a very talented and trained Irish dancer who manages her own Irish dance studio in our community. On the weekend of Saint Patrick’s Day, she offered to come to the library and lead an Irish Dance Workshop. Here are my notes on what we did so hopefully it can be easily duplicated in any community. We hosted this program on the weekend of Saint Patrick’s Day, but because its popularity we plan to offer it again as summer workshop during our Summer Reading Program.

We began the event at 12:00 p.m. and it ran until 2:00 p.m. It took about two hours to set up the dance floor and for all the dancers to get dressed and understand the schedule.

At noon, we invited all the families who had arrived to join us in the Programming room. After a very short introduction to Irish dance, we invited all the kids to make their own Irish drum, known as a Bodhrán. All the supplies we needed were paper plates, crayons, glue sticks, plastic spoons, and Irish knot style coloring sheets. The paper plates we used were very thick, so this is one time to splurge and get the kid that are sturdy. After all, the kids will be hitting them with a spoon to sound like a drum! The children simply colored the sheets. Then, we cut out the design part of the coloring page into a circle that would fit onto a paper place. Simply glue that paper circle to a paper plate, and we were done. Download the coloring sheets here: Irish Bodhrán Coloring Sheets.

This took a little bit longer than I expected: 30 minutes in all. But, when the kids were done, we invited them to have a seat on the floor and the show began! The kids were shown how to drum on their new Bodhrán while the Irish Dancers took the stage and began their performances.

You can see a video of the demonstration here:

We also had two books on Irish lore and legends to help break up the program. The first title was, Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato by Tommie DePaola. The second title was, Fin M’Coul: The Giant of Knockmanyhill, also by Tomie de Paola.

A few volunteers also had a treat table set up with Irish soda bread, tea from Ireland, and some fruit.
The program lasted all the two hours, and we had a great crowd! I think this is a great example of using the resources in your community. One of the teens had qualified to travel to Dublin, Ireland for the World Irish Dance Association’s World Championships. She was the only dancer from the entire Midwest region of the United States to qualify. As awesome as this was, I was surprised to learn that no one seemed to know about it until it was announced just before she took the stage to show us her contest routines.

What I love about these kids of partnership programs is that not only do they bring our community into the library, but they serve as a way to showcase local talents and resources that may be going unnoticed. We should celebrate our community, and our Saint Patrick’s themed Irish Dance program was an opportunity for our library to do just that!

Downloads:
Irish Bodhrán Coloring Sheets

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