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Ballina woman Tara Brady. Photograph by John Kelly

Cross border challenge for Tara

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Growing up in a twin community straddling two counties has helped a World Dance Championship entrant to take part in Rose of Tralee selection conventions in successive years. Tara Brady, Ballina, will participate in the Tipperary Rose selection in the Anner Hotel on March 24, a week before she will be competing in the World Dance Championships.
Last year, Ms Brady (23) participated in the Clare Rose competition following encouragement from her uncle, Eddie O’Gorman, Killaloe.
“It was a fabulous experience. I met so many intelligent, brilliant, funny girls. I would probably have never met them only for the Clare Rose because they all came from different backgrounds and age groups,” she said.
“I am still in contact with some of those girls today. I would encourage any woman who is thinking about entering the Rose competition to go for it.
“You learn a lot about yourself and it is a great confidence builder. The whole emphasis is on the women’s life story and to have a bit of craic.
“The Rose of Tralee festival provides a platform for intelligent fabulous women to speak about things that are important to them. Why would you ever want to get rid of something like this. It is also a celebration of Irish culture and tradition.”
Ms Brady believes that her family connections with Killaloe and being reared in Ballina provide her with the platform to enter competitions in the two neighbouring counties.
“I grew up in the twin towns of Ballina and Killaloe. They work off each other. Apart from the hurling rivalry, we see each other and the one community,” she said.
“I feel I was reared by both. My family hails from Clare, myself and my brother grew up in Ballina but I went to school in Killaloe. The band Cailiní Nua was founded in Killaloe. I feel connected to both communities so I feel I can represent both of them.”
Interestingly, she is the fourth generation involved in Irish traditional dancing. Her great- grandmother, Nancy Mulqueen, grandmother, Mary Mulqueen and mother, Ann have all been dancers.
Mary Mulqueen’s sister, Ann, toured with the Dubliners in the sixties during the Showband era. Regarded also as a fabulous singer, she also won several singing competitions.
Ann Hogan was involved in Irish dancing from the age of about four until 17 before she started her training to be a nurse.
A member of the Flynn O’Kane Dance Academy in Nenagh, she started Irish dancing at the age of five. Last November, she came third in the Munster championship, securing a qualifying spot for the World Dance Championships.
All her family and friends will be supporting her when she competes in the World Dance Championships in Glasgow, which runs from Sunday, March 24 until Sunday, March 31.
“I will be competing in solo Senior Ladies Over 23 category,” she said.
“This includes people in their forties and fifties. I will do two dances – a reel and a hornpipe -one in light shoes and one in heavy shoes.
“There could be 200 in the competition from all over the world. A certain number will get called back for the recall. Dancers will do the same two dances again, a smaller group will get a second recall before those who are chosen do a set dance in heavy shoes on your own.
“I will have a group of about 20 people supporting me. I am so lucky that my family and friends are getting flights to come and support me.
“It can be a very busy day. I train for months for about three minutes on stage. To have the support of my family and friends makes a big difference,” she explains.
Dance training takes up four or five nights a week before a major competition.
This is in addition to practicing at home. In total, she is practicing or training on average 12 hours a week. Irish dancing has got so competitive and athletic most dancers are going to the gym for strength and conditioning.
The last time Ms Brady qualified for the World Championships was during her Leaving Certificate, which she managed to juggle with the help of family and friends.
While she continued attending classes and practicing, she took a break from entering competitions for a lot of the time she was doing her undergraduate course at the University of Limerick.
“Working at home during my Masters gave me more free time to be able to dance. I am entering this year for what I am saying is ‘one last go’ but it keeps happening, everyone says ‘one last go’ for about three years and it keeps happening.
“What keeps me going is the pure love of dancing. It is too hard and there is too much of a commitment if you didn’t love it. You have to really love it and be interested in it.
“I am able to go to college and still compete at a high level of Irish dancing,” she explains.
Ballina National School and St Anne’s Community College provided her with primary and secondary education.
Last August, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and History and is now studying for a Masters in Public History and Culture Heritage at the University of Limerick. She is also doing an internship with a heritage consultancy company.
“I am interested in heritage and public history like community outreach and getting people involved in learning about history,” she said.
“I like making history more collaborative with the local community.
“I have always had an interest in history as far back as I can remember. It was once very male dominated but that is not the case any more there are plenty of prominent female historians.
“My main historical interest is the revolutionary period from 1916 to 1923.
“Clare and Tipperary were very involved in the Civil War and War of Independence. It is very interesting to get involved in local history because there is so much to dig into.”
Reared in Ballina with her brother, Jack her mother, Ann, neé Hogan and her family who are from Killaloe, while her father, Enda, a Drumcondra native, runs a landscaping business in the area.
His mother, Maureen Brady who hailed from the Glen, Killaloe married Tara’s grandfather, lived in Dublin for a period and then came down to Ballina to run what was later known as Gooser’s bar and restaurant for a few years in the eighties.
Enda Brady went to St Anne’s Community College where he met his wife, Ann.
Jack Brady plays as a goalkeeper for Longford Town Football Club in the League of Ireland. A former Tipperary Minor and U-21 footballer, he also played soccer at underage level for Ireland.

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