THEY come from far and wide to compete in the Feis Dhoire Cholmcille - but few have come further or over come as many obstacles as the dancers from the Cathy O’Neill school of Irish Dancing who took to the stage at Derry’s Guildhall this week.
The five dancers, aged from 10-17, have travelled all the way from Christchurch in New Zealand - the city devastated by an earthquake in February of this year.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ as they soaked up the Easter sunshine outside the Guildhall, they said the visit to Derry had been a positive focus after a tough few months.
Elizabeth Hamilton, one of the chaperones of the dancers, spoke of how her home had been devastated by the quake and how she was still unable to begin repair works.
“After a quake, you can get aftershocks for up to 12 months so nothing has been done. We don’t know yet whether we can rebuild or repair our home. We have to keep living there, anyway, because we have no choice.
“You just have to get on with things - there is no point in living in fear.”
Cathy O’Neill, who organised the trip to Derry said the community in Christchurch had really pulled together to help each other out - but it was still a welcome break to travel to the Derry Feis.
“We have been coming here for nine years,” she said. “We always travel over for the Worlds, and we wanted to find another competition we could take part in while we were over this far.
“We came to Derry and we fell in love with it - with the place and with the people so we have come back ever since.
“And we are just blown away by the competition.
“You don’t see anything on the scale of the Feis back home.”
This trip has come with an added bonus for the New Zealand dancers - as they arrived to bright sunshine.
“We are used to arriving her to the cold and rain, it’s great to see the sun come out. It’s feels like a New Zealand summer.”