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The Humours of Bandon

A Note From Margaret Mcauliffe

You know when you’ve been told a story so many times that you start to tell it as your own? Well, I’d like to tell you mother’s version of my first ever, Irish Dancing class.

So I’m five years of age and by all accounts, a tripping-over-blades-of-grass brand of clumsy. She worries I’ll be bullied when I start school “and you already had the red hair” so asks around, what’s to be done. She gets some solid advice to send me to Irish dancing classes to, “straighten her out” and finds a class in my local primary school hall in Malahide. An hour after my first lesson, she finds me sitting cross legged on the floor, staring up at the school hall stage as the next class are preparing for their lesson. Now, I was quite a well behaved child, very laid back generally, but that day? I threw a strop. I would not stand up to leave the hall when my class was finished. “But Mommy!?! The big girls are on the stage!”

My Irish dancing teacher Máire Mhic Aogáin, told her I’d be fine to stay on and watch and to come back in an hour to collect me. An hour passes and she returns to find me similarly transfixed, having not moved an inch. She maintains that in that moment, as she held my tiny hand and looked down at my freckly face, she knew something had been ignited in me.

I think every child radiates potential and deep curiosity and I think it’s that which drives their interest to understand their world and their place in it. I was lucky enough both to have found that interest and to have had parents that understood its importance to me.

So began my 18 year relationship with competitive Irish dancing. I learned the steps certainly, but more importantly I learned about skill and focus, I engaged with my peers and environment, I developed confidence, poise and grit. I learned graciousness through winning and humility in defeat.

I could not have envisaged so early on that my Irish Dancing hobby would lead me to touring in Australia. Having spent a considerable amount of time travelling throughout this wonderful country in a Wicked camper van ’06 – ’07, I’m wise to a few things ahead of time:
1. The ingredients in goon are not what you think, and
2. Eating an apple approaching airport security is not advisable.

My sincere thanks to Stefanie Preissner my Midas-touch mentor, director and friend. To Fishamble: The New Play Company for adopting my show after only its second performance and enabling me to tour the world under their trusted flag and to Rob Moloney my trusted companion, friend and stage manager extraordinaire for jumping on board this Australian tour. Thanks to everyone who supported Annie jigging her way across Australia now, 5..6…7… and off we go!


– Margaret McAuliffe


The Humours of Bandon plays from 16 – 18 May at Riverside. 

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