A Derry priest has spoken of his foray into the world of Irish dancing ahead of a charity event in the city next month.
Fr Micheál McGavigan is among 12 staff at St Columb’s College staff preparing to brave the dance floor at a charity Jigs & Reels fundraising event taking place in the Waterfoot Hotel on Friday, February 26.
The Three Patrons priest and his dancing partner Kathryn Kelly, who works in the St Brigid’s parish, will be joined by staff and Friends of St Columb’s College at the event.
Fr McGavigan, chaplain at St Columb’s College, will accompany nine students from the school to Tanzania in East Africa this summer, and proceeds from the charity endeavours will go towards Children In Crossfire projects taking place on the frontline with people in dire need of aid.
Fr Micheál said he has found Irish dancing quite the challenge.
He said: “Getting the time to practice is not always easy but it will be a bit of craic on the night. There will be a ceilidh and entertainment.
“We have had a good lot of practice and a couple of teachers are Irish dancers, and there is a young fellow from the world championships who is teaching us as well.
“There are six couples taking part and we all have an individual dance as well as the big group dance.
“We started in late December and have been practising once a week. I think most of the couples have one dancer in them.
“I can’t dance,” Fr Micheál said. “I think with Irish dancing the guys are finding it more difficult. It is very fast, kicking overfoot, trying to stay in time.
“I don’t think there will be any scouts there from Michael Flatley.”
During the visit to Tanzania later this year, the senior students, accompanied by Fr McGavigan and teacher Mr Mark McConnellogue, will visit various projects.
This will include visits to hospitals, primary and secondary schools, clinics and dispensaries.
“All the money that is raised is going towards helping people in Tanzania,” Fr Micheál said, “including some of the most vulnerable children in the world, and we plan to raise £3,000 for each person going on the trip.
“The boys have also previously organised a charity boxing match”.
“We’ll be heading off on July 8 for 10 days and the week before that I’ll be going to Lourdes- there’s 450 going out to Lourdes from the Diocese, with 100 young people and I’ll be charge of them. We get back on the 6th so there’ll be little rest before we head off to Tanzania!”
The Jigs & Reels event will take place on Friday, February 26 in the Waterfoot Hotel, Derry.
Tickets costing £10 are available from St Columb’s College or St Brigid’s Parish Office.
Anyone unable to attend but who would like to sponsor Fr Micheál’s dancing endeavours is advised that donations are gratefully accepted.
While in Tanzania the students and staff from St Columb’s College will be joined by representatives from local charity, Children In Crossfire.
Teacher and trip organiser Mr Mark McConnellogue said: “During this trip, we will visit various projects whose aim it is to protect and support some of the most vulnerable children on our planet.
“We will visit hospitals, primary and secondary schools, clinics and dispensaries.
“Each student is required to raise £3,000 which will be principally used to finance the very important projects that they visit in Tanzania.
“St. Columb’s College had a similar trip in 2013 and it was an excellent and life-changing experience for our students and staff.”
Speaking about the Jigs and Reels event, he added; “Twelve members of staff will be dancing to help our students raise the much needed funds for these trips. We have been practicing our threes and sevens for the past month now and we are confident that the event will prove to be a great night’s entertainment and craic.
“Tickets for the event are now on sale at the College at £10 each. We are asking you to give these young people your full support by joining us on Friday 26th February. As well as the Jigs & Reels, there will be spot prizes, traditional Irish music, a ceíli and singing.”