Mercyhurst has deep Irish roots. The Sisters of Mercy of the Erie Catholic Diocese trace their heritage to Mother Catherine McAuley, who founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland. Mercyhurst’s sister city is in Dungarven, Ireland, a town where students also have the opportunity to study abroad each spring. Mercyhurst has many Irish traditions as the university stays connected to its roots, and the addition of the Irish Dancing Club is a great way for students to participate in and celebrate Irish culture.
Abby Cullen, is a senior this year with a major in public history as well as minors in professional writing and anthropology. Cullen, along with the help of Torianne Morrow and Megan Reilly, got the club off the ground this semester.
“Irish dance club gives students the opportunity to Irish dance on campus. Whether you have experience or not, we welcome anyone who is interested,” Cullen said.
“At our meetings we teach some steps to beginners and for those with more experience we also work on our own dances. It’s a celebration of our heritage and a chance to engage with the sport,” said Cullen.
The club meets in the Rec’s bike room every Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. and is open to all students. Despite being new on campus, the club has high aspirations for the future. “Right now we are planning to have some classes where we learn some show-style dances. Hopefully we can showcase them in the near future,” said Cullen.
For Cullen, the club is more than just another campus activity. “I have been Irish dancing my whole life. This sport has done so much for me and I hope to share that with others. You can’t help but have a smile on your face dancing, and it’s our goal to show that to our fellow students. There’s really nothing like it and it gives me a chance to show my pride in my Irish heritage,” said Cullen.
For students who hesitate to join the club due to their lack of dancing experience, Irish Dance Club does not require any prior dance experience to join. “We have plenty of beginner dancers who are learning some of the basics. If you’re just interested in trying it out or doing something to be active, this is a great opportunity for that,” said Cullen. “Not only is Irish dancing extremely fun, it’s also a great workout. There’s also a great community that comes with Irish dance. Not only are we practicing, but we’re also building connections and friendships.”
For students on campus who are interested in Irish heritage, but not into dance, there is another club on campus for students to participate in. Cullen is also the President of the Irish Club. “In the Irish club we have trivia nights, movie nights and I have taught and performed Irish dances in the past. We wanted to create a club dedicated just to Irish dance so we could eventually have a competitive dance team here at Mercyhurst,” said Cullen. The club is fairly new to Mercyhurst but it is open to any and all students, no matter what level of dancing skill they have. The Irish Club is also open to all students and invites all students to join to learn more about and celebrate Irish culture.
With spring right around the corner, there is no better time to join an RSCO, try something new, and get moving—the Irish Dancing Club is the perfect way to incorporate all three of those things into your daily life. If you or someone you know are interested in joining the Irish Dancing Club or the Irish Club, reach out to Abby Cullen for more information.