Two Derry-trained Irish dancers have become the first pair of sisters to have been crowned world champions in the same year since 1980.
Cullyhanna-natives Olivia Murray, aged 22, and Caitlin Murray, aged 12, are the pride of the McConomy Bradley Doherty Academy, having returned victorious in the Ladies 21-23 and Girls Under 12 categories from the World Irish Dancing Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the United States of America.
Convoy-native Conor Rodgers, meanwhile, brought the Men’s Under-21 laurels back to the North West.
Olivia, who memorably danced a slip-gig up the front lawn at Queen’s University, Belfast when she graduated with a Bsc in Mathematics, said she was thrilled with the family’s double success.
“I still can’t believe I’m a World Champion! It’s the first time a pair of sisters were both crowned at the World Irish Dance Championships since 1980, so it was really special. Me and my three sisters competed in North Carolina and my sister was crowned Under 12s World Champion.
“It definitely helps that we all dance. We might not always want to hear what the other is saying but…!
Olivia, who having completed a Maths degree at Queens has gone on to train as a teacher, said it was sometimes tricky balancing her studies with her challenging dancing schedule. Particularly when that schedule involves dancing as part of the world famous ‘Riverdance’ troupe.
“I went straight from school to do my Maths degree and then my PGCE so I am going to take a year. My summer job is dancing with Riverdance so I would love to do the 25th anniversary tour for a year and then settle down and find a teaching job.
"My PGCE lecture, Dr. Ian Cantly, has been so understanding. Any support I needed he was always there and was always asking how I was getting on. He’s brilliant. It can be difficult to fit it all in, but it keeps you sane. I think if I wasn’t dancing at the same time I would have lost the plot altogether. It’s good to have a good balance.”
From left, Caitlin Murray, Conor Rodgers and Olivia Murray, newly-crowned world champion Irish dancers.