Results from Nationals – July 1-5, 2015

Mulhern School of Irish Dance is very proud of our results from NAIDC 2015!!

Ranked 4th in the nation as a school in terms of number of podium placers
– best showing of any school in the Mid-America region!

  • 16 World Qualifiers
  • 7 Top 5 placements
  • 14 Top 10 placements
  • 17 Top 20 placements
  • 33 Top 50 placements (Recalls)


U8 – Clare Mulhern Malloy – 6th, Aiofe Stover- 34th, Molly Ronan- 36th

U9- Lily Morel- 6th, Kate Wylie- 22nd, Caroline Sutton – 34th

U10 – Catherine McDaniels- 2nd, Katherine Mulhern Malloy- 8th, Mallory Turner- 31st

U11- Annie Morel- 4th, Cayleigh O’Hare- 6th

U12- Bridget Mulhern O’Kane – 9th, Caroline Mulhern Malloy – 42nd

U13- Maria Murphy- 3rd, Margaret Benington- 24th

U14- Tess Clifford- 21st

U15- Mandy Ausman– 18th, Kaitlin Ratcliff- 27th, Mae Javois- 30th, Caitlin Langs- 48th

U17- Molly Clifford – 13th, Sammy Ausman- 16th, Maeve Clancy- 21st

U18- Mary Kate McCarthy-4th, Maria Cline-7th, Alison Kelly-42nd,Hannah Dutler-43rd

U19- Alanna Chappel – 5th, Maggie Clifford- 9th



U12- Ronan Kristufek- 2nd

U17- Robert Chappel – 5th



Girls U13 – 26th

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Adjudicators and Musicians Announced

orange crest with crown and title


The Northern Mid-America Championship is pleased to announce the following adjudicators and musicians at our inaugural competition.


Sue Fay Healy, Ottawa, Canada
Jennifer Healy, Ottawa, Canada
Brendan O’Brien, Dublin, Ireland
Finnuala Irwin, Calgary, Western Canada
Lisa Waites, London, England
Marie Moore Cunniffe, Scotch Plains, New Jersey
John Harling, Music Adjudicator, Chicago, IL

Sean O’Brien, Australia/England/Western Canada
Cormac O’Se, Minneapolis, MN
Sean Cleland, Chicago, IL
Kathleen Green, Minneapolis, MN
Thomas Juenemann, St. Paul, MN

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Register for the Northern Mid-America Championship!

orange crest with crown and title

The Mulhern School of Irish Dance is pleased to announce that we will be hosting the Northern Mid-America Championship – and the event is now officially open for registration!


The feis will be held on Sunday, June 21 at:


Hilton Minneapolis
1001 Marquette Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403


  • The feis is back-to-back (but with different venues – approx. 10 min apart) with Twin Cities Feile that is being held on Saturday, June 20 in St Paul, MN.
  • All Music & Dance competitions held on June 21, 2015 at the Hilton Minneapolis.
  • Cash prizes for Top 3 in Open & Preliminary Championship
  • Sashes for Top 5 in Open & Preliminary Championship & First Feis dancers
  • Brian P. Mulhern Perpetual Dance-Off competition for Top 3 winners of all Open Championship competitions.
  • Harlequin Marley flooring for Open & Preliminary Championship stages
  • Overseas & North American Adjudicators & Musicians
  • All Treble Reel Special proceeds will be donated to Cancer Research in honor of Mulhern School family members, Dee Scott and the late Joey Levato.
  • This feis has paid caps of 250 PC/OC and 500 non-champ competitors. Any entries that are unpaid at the time that the cap is reached will be dropped.
For further information, please see our feis website and follow us on Twitter & Instagram with username  @nmachampionship and find us on Facebook as NMA Championship for the most up-to-date details on the feis!


The hotel rooms are starting to fill up so please be sure to secure a room now. A link for the hotel room block is A copy of the feis syllabus is available on Feisworx, at the feis website and will be posted on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages in the near future.


We hope to see you on June 21st!


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All Scotland Championships 2015 Results

Claire Mulhern Malloy…5th Overall Girls U8 Championship
Katherine Mulhern Malloy…3rd Prelim & 27th Overall Girls U10 Championship
Lauren Anderson…Girls U11
Olivia Fallon…3rd Prelim Girls U13
Natalie Geneser… Girls U13
Caitlin Langs…2nd Prelim Girls U15
Katie Breck…Girls U16
Hannah Dutler…Ladies U18
Maria Cline…  5th place Slipjig Rd & 17th Overall Ladies U18 Championship
Mary Kate McCarthy…6th place Heavy Rd &  Overall Ladies U18 Championship

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Oireachtas 2014 Results

30 Top 10 Awards…22 soloists!!
47 Top 20 Awards!!
20 World Qualifiers!!  Montreal here we come!!
43 National Qualifiers!!  Providence, RI here we come!

three girls with prizes for first, second, third

Top 3 in Girls U8

1st…Robert Chapell- Boys U16.
2nd…Ronan Kristufek- Boys U11, Anna Cline- Trad. Set, Cate McDaniels- Girls U9, Lily Morel- Girls U8
3rd…Claire Mulhern Malloy- Girls U8, Annie Morel- Girls U10, Meghan McCarthy- Girls U17, Ronan Koll- Trad. Set, Figure Choreography The Fox Hunt
4th…Katherine Mulhern Malloy-Girls U9, Alanna Chapell- Ladies U18
5th…Maria Murphy- Girls U12, Mary Kate McCarthy- Girls U17, Katelyn Dunn- Ladies U21
6th…Mariana Rogan-Trad. Set, Girls Ceili U8, Girls Ceili Over 15, Mixed Ceili U12.
8th…Tess Clifford- Girls U13, Kaitlin Ratcliff- Girls U14, Emma Reynolds- Ladies U19, Girls Ceili U12
9th…Kate Wylie- Girls U8, Cayleigh O’Hare- Girls U10, Mae Javois- Girls U14
10th…Molly Clifford- Girls U16, Maggie Clifford- Ladies U18, Alyssa Levato- Ladies U20
11th…Lindsey Gaffney- Girls U14, Evelyn Hemler- Trad. Set, Girls Ceili U10
12th…Mallory Turner- Girls U9
13th…Molly Burke- U9, Maria Cline- Girls U17, Girls Ceili Over 15
15th…Maeve Clancy- Girls U16, Sophia Ciavarelli- Trad.Set
18th…Bridget Mulhern O’Kane- Girls U11, Sammy Ausman- Girls U16, Katheryn Lenz- Girls U17, Molly Ronan- Trad. Set
19th…Maggie Cline- Girls U9

Phoebe Morel- 21st, Mandy Ausman- 25th, Alison Kelly- 26th, Margaret Benington- 28th, Isabelle Plumpe & Emme Miles- 29th, Mara Vettori- 30th, Katie Breck- 34th, Ella Cibinski, Caitlin Langs & Hannah Dutler- 36th, Maria McDonald- 39th, Lily Jones- 43rd, Sarah Thornton- 47th, Ashley Pope- 48th, Maeve Scott- 51st, Clare Koll- 57th, Lauren Anderson- 59th, Kate Turner- 64th

dancer in dress with wig

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Mulhern on Chicago ABC TV news

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2012 a great year for Mulhern School

This year has been a very exciting, productive, and fulfilling one… beyond all of the smiles, fun, friendships and lasting memories, we achieved some amazing results that cannot go unmentioned. We brought home a Title and five Top 5 placements from the 2011 North American National Championships! We were awarded 7 titles and 18 Top 5 placements at the 2011 Regional Championships, with 21 soloists qualifying for the World Championships! The World Championships brought us a 3rd place in the U12 boys, 9th and 24th in the U14 Girls, 11th 17th & 23rd in U15 Girls, 27th in U19 Girls and 11th 12th and 17th in the Ceili competitions! Congratulations to each dancer that has performed on stage throughout the year in cities all across the world — we are very proud to have you represent the Mulhern School!

In addition to all of the placement successes our school has achieved, we have expanded into the Minneapolis, Minnesota area! We are now teaching classes in St. Louis Park, MN. We have an excellent and growing class up North. Please welcome our new family members.

We look forward to the continued development of each dancer in our school. Their hard work and positive attitude will assure much fun and contentment. W e  thank all of the parents for sharing your beautiful children with us and the sacrifices your family makes to allow them to dance with us. We know we are very blessed to have you a part of our school family and we appreciate your commitment to this form of dance — Irish dance — and the Mulhern School!

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Mulhern student places 3rd at Worlds 2012

Conal Mulhern O'Kane places third at the 2012 World's Congratulations to Conal Mulhern O’Kane of the Mulhern School of Irish Dance who placed 3rd in Boys 11-12 at the 42nd World Irish Dancing Championships, hosted by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (the World Irish Dancing Commission). The competition draws 6,500 dancers annually.

Winners earn a traveling trophy, shown here, which is theirs to keep until a new winner is crowned at the following year’s competition.

This year Worlds were held in Belfast, Northern Ireland starting March 31st, with a panel of esteemed adjudicators from Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States tasked with the difficult job of selecting the best competitive Irish dancers in the world today. Other results can be found here.

Next year Worlds will be held at Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA — its only the second time that the annual meet has been held in the United States, and the first time for Boston. Twenty cities competed for the honor of hosting the 2012 event.

Once again, Mulhern sent a number of dancers to the international competition. Congratulations to all Mulhern dancers who competed.

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Mulhern featured in Hinsdale Living

Two Hinsdale sisters bring their love of Irish dancing to children. (Hindale Living, March 14, 2012) — If it’s possible for Irish dancing to be in your blood, Eileen Mulhern O’Kane and her sister, Coleen Mulhern Malloy, both Hinsdale residents, would have it.

Their parents, Brian and Bridie Mulhern, emigrated from Ireland and enrolled all seven of the Mulhern children in lessons. But Coleen and Eileen, the youngest of the brood, were different—unlike their siblings, they never outgrew the sport. “We were the ones in the family that went the furthest with it,” says Eileen. Continue reading …

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Irish devils on the World Stage

(Hinsdale Central High School Devils’ Advocate, 12/15/11) — Thanksgiving is usually a time for two things; family and turkey –– unless, of course, you are an Irish dancer. In that case, practice starts at five in the evening, and by the time it ends, hopefully there is still turkey left. As with any sport, incredibly large sacrifices must be made to reach an elite level, but for those who do make the commitment, the light at the end of the tunnel is a trip to Belfast, Ireland for the world competition.

Central will be represented by three students for the individual competition in Belfast this April. Senior Katelyn Dunn, Juniors Emily Russell and Claire Sullivan, and Freshmen Caitlin O’Rourke and sisters Mary Kate McCarthy and Meghan McCarthy, all qualified out of the Oireacthas competition, a regional qualifier in which only the top 10% of dancers advance. This year, approximately 150 dancers fought for those 15 spots.

The Oireacthas begins with a hard shoe round of Irish dancing in groups of three (the hard shoe is similar to a tap shoe), and is followed b] a soft shoe round (similar to a ballet shoe). Based on evaluations of these rounds, half of the dancers are recalled for a final evaluation. “If you get recalled, you then dance, once again in front of the three judges, but this time all by yourself in your hard shoes so they can hear your rhythm. Thii is the set round; the round to show off what you’ve got,” said Russell.

Last year, Russell missed qualifying for the world competition by one spot. “Everything about it is just really stressful,” said Russell. Adding to the stress is a point system in which each individual starts with a perfect score, but then receives deductions for the smallest of mistakes. “Irish Dance takes a combination of flexibility, strength, and grace. You are constantly jumping, leaping, and exerting tons of energy while at the same time focusing on keeping your dances neat and elegant,” said Russell. Maintaining that high level of physical exertion and focus on form is what makes retaining that perfect score extremely difficult.

As a result, the sport requires immense preparation. Sullivan’s experiences with Irish Dancing began at age four, and she has remained with the sport for the past 12 years. “We have practice twice a week no matter what time of year it is. Before regionals we had practices on Sunday for six hours. It’s a long day,” said Sullivan. Tlie schedule has limited flex- ibility, as demonstrated by the Thanksgiving practices.

Russell, Sullivan, Dunn ,and the McCarthy’s all take lessons from an Irish dance program taught by sisters Colleen Mulhern Malloy and Ei- leen Mulhern O’Kane. They participate in the top level of several classes, which includes about twenty students from both the local suburbs and downtown Chicago. “They can push you really hard at times, and it is stressful, but in the end it is worth it,” said Sullivan. Russell has also seen her share of tough lessons in the program. “Sometimes their’constructive criticism’ is pretty harsh, but you have to be pretty tough to be an Irish Dancer because you face a lot of rejection and disappointments,” said Russell.

And when it comes to Irish dancing, both Malloy and O’Kane have done more than just teach. O’Kane won the regional title for 11 con- secutive years and was twice named the national Irish dance champion. Malloy was a national champion as well as a world medal holder. “My coaches are some of the most talented teachers in the Irish dancing world today,” said Dunn. “They prepare us both physically and mentally for competitions and make sure we never step on stage unprepared. They can be tough on the dancers but it is worth it because only hard work can result in ‘big’results.”

Russell, Sullivan, and Dunn also participate in other types of dance. All three are on the poms team and as distinct as the two forms of dance are, some overlaps in technique do exist. “The major factor that it helps is my flexibility. Being on the poms team helps me to kick and click my legs over my head, which is what our dance teachers are looking for, flexibility-wise. Poms also helps to make spins and such easier because we work on core and spotting,” said Russell.

For Dunn, Irish dancing is just one aspect of her dance life. “I dance at the American Dance Center 11 hours a week studying ballet,jazz, tap, modern, and contemporary dance,” said Dunn. “1 feel that some aspects of Irish dance line up with ballet such as turn out, flexibility, and pointed toes while others like landing flat-footed from jumps in ballet and land- ing on your toes for Irish dance totally contradict each other.”

During a competition, Irish dancers are evaluated byjudges based on several criteria. “The top five tilings that they are being judged on are rhythm and timing, carriage, feet placement, athleticism, and style. It’s an art form, beyond the technicalities,” said O’Kane. A significant amount of raw strength is necessary for a dancer to complete her steps. “If you are not as strong or athletic, you have a harder time getting through the routine. Like any sport these days, the level of sheer athleticism required has increased,” said O’Kane.

In the weeks leading up to the Oireacthas, the frequency and duration of practices increased significantly. The dancers had practice four to five times per week, for a total of 12 hours. Practices could also go until 11 at night, upsetting a dancer’s usual pattern of school, homework, and sleep. By the sixth hour of a Sunday practice, or when the clock in the studio strikes 11 p.m., Sullivan, Dunn and Russell are exhausted. And as for the difficulty of these practices, Dunn might go as far as to call them back- breaking. “I even fractured my back last year due to the intensity of class,” said Dunn.

But the ultimate payoff is just around the corner. All three individuals will compete in the solo portion of the world competition in Ireland this spring. “The competition will be super tough because it is the top dancers from every region,” said Russell. Russell, Sullivan and Dunn all share a goal of a recall at the world competition. “Our goals are very individual. Some girls just want a recall, and others want to finish in the top 10%. Last year we had two from our program that placed 9’1’ and 10’h at worlds individually,” said O’Kane. Only half of the competitors receive a recall, and have the privilege of participating in the awards ceremony.

One of the great benefits of the world competition is the chance to meet dancers from other countries. The most represented countries include the United States, England, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and even Russia. “It’s the best of the best – the best of each region competing for the world championship title,” said O’Kane.

After all of the hard work that has gone into qualifying for a trip to Belfast, Dunn, Sullivan and Russell feel more excitement than anxiety for April. After a decade of training, these three Irish dancers can finally show off the incredible level of performance they have acquired. Looking back on 11 years of work, Russell has no doubts about her decision to remain with the program: “I am so happy that I have stuck with it for so long, because all of your hard work really pays off, and it feels awesome when it does!”

— Ted Owens

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