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Erin Go Brava In Massapequa

More than 1,000 Irish dancers from all over North America jigged to classic Irish melodies at the Annual Inishfree School Feis (competition) held at Berner Middle School on Sunday. Amongst the crowd were members from the Massapequa Inishfree School who had competitors ranging from ages 5 to 25.

The competition consisted of Beginners, Advanced Beginners, Novices, Prizewinners and Championship levels. Each dancer danced in front of judges hoping to be placed in the top rankings.

Massapequa resident Kathleen McGowan, 23, competed in the Championship category, and she placed 5th out of 21 dancers. She will be representing the U.S. in the 2014 World Championships in London this April.

“To qualify for the World Championships you need to get placed in the top percentage,” said McGowan. “I am pretty excited to go to London. I’ve been to many different areas to compete including Scotland and Ireland. In July, I’m competing in the Nationals in Montreal. There I will find out if I qualify for next year’s big competition.”

McGowan explored her love for Irish dance at Inishfree since she was six-years old, and she has competed for about 18 years.

“This is my 8th solo,” she said. “I’ve been with Inishfree my entire life, and I love dancing for my own school’s Feis.”

To get prepared for her competitions, Kathleen practices whenever she can.

“I go to class four or five days a week for about three hours,” she said. “When I don’t have class, I practice at home for at least three hours.”

McGowan hopes to continue dancing and to also teach it someday.

“Inishfree has become a huge part of me, and I would love to teach others who love dance,” she said. “I’m training to become a teacher. I have to take a big exam, and I plan to take it in the next few years.”

Amongst the Advanced Beginners, Christina Mullan, 10, from Massapequa, also represented Inishfree. She placed third, and she will advance to the Novice category in the dances that she performed next year.

“I love competing,” said the young dancer, who has competed since she was eight-years old. “It is really fun and nerve wracking at the same time. I placed in reel and hard shoe. I can’t wait to compete in next year’s Feis.”

Katie Greve, 6, from Massapequa also competed in the advanced beginner category. She started dancing when she was almost five-years old.

“She dances throughout the house all night long, and she views this as fun not just a competition. She loves it,” said her mother Lisa.

Gillian Hughes, 12, Plainedge, also competed. She has been dancing for about eight years, and she plans to always include dancing in her life.

“I practice Monday through Friday, and I love doing this. I love the excitement of competing. I always aim to get placed in the top five,” she said.

The goal of the school is the promotion of Irish Culture, the enjoyment the art of dance, and perfecting dance for competition.  “The Feis is a major event where dancers practice for the world championship. All of the dancers here are very talented, and Inishfree has many tough competitors,” said Sean Reagan, director and teacher at Inishfree in Massapequa.