Derry dancers rally round teacher in cancer battle

Elizabeth McConomy, standing, third from left, at the launch of an Ulster Feis several years ago. Elizabeth is currently fighting cancer.
Elizabeth McConomy, standing, third from left, at the launch of an Ulster Feis several years ago. Elizabeth is currently fighting cancer.

Derry’s Irish dance community has rallied around one of its own, the much loved Irish dance tutor, Elizabeth McConomy, who was recently dealt the blow of a cancer diagnosis.

The founder of the McConomy School of Dance, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Lobular Cancer in July.

She recently underwent lymph node surgery and must now undertake chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment over the course of the next year.

In true Derry fashion the pupils at the Ráth Mór-based dance school have rallied behind their mentor who, as well as running the oft-decorated dance academy, is also the main carer for her husband Don, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The school has set up a GoFundMe page to help ease the financial burden on the couple who have both lost their livelihood through illness.

A spokesperson for the school said: “Elizabeth was the founder of the McConomy school of dancing, over forty years ago.”

They added: “In true ‘Elizabeth’ style, she remains so strong, positive and is still giving orders from the bedside. We miss her in class every day!”

Elizabeth’s pupils have already raised £2,590 on their GoFundMe page and also intend raising money for Macmillan Cancer at Ireland’s Northwest Championships on Sunday, October 13, at which Elizabeth’s daughter, Tara, will be bravely shaving her head live onstage, in support of her mother.

Over 60 people have already donated.

Some of the testimonials from friends and colleagues speak volumes of the esteem in which Elizabeth is held.

The London-based Claddagh Academy teachers, said: “Stay strong Elizabeth. We are all thinking of you. Lots of love.”

The Sylvan Kelly School of Dance in County Mayo said: “Best wishes Elizabeth and prayers sent to you and your family.

“Love, Sylvan Kelly School of Dance.”

Michelle Higgins-Wyse said: “Such a fabulous role model in the dance world. A loving wife, mother and grandmother.”

Ciara Hutton, said simply, “Thinking of you Elizabeth.”

And Jen and Mike McClory said: “Elizabeth, we are all standing behind you.

“Thinking of you all and sending continuous prayers.”

Donations continued to pour in as the ‘Journal’ went to Press on Monday evening.

To contribute to the fundraising drive visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/dance-for-cancer