Hundreds of people gathered in Claregalway Hotel on Monday night to pay tribute to Claire Greaney who has captured five World Championship titles in Irish Dancing. It is a truly outstanding achievement for the Loughgeorge native who is daughter of Martin Joe and Mary Greaney.
A Gala night of entertainment was organised with Lackagh National School Band, Lackagh U12 Grúpa Ceoil and members of Lackagh Senior ban providing the musical entertainment. Malachy Noone acted as Master of Ceremonies for the night and the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly left to the end.
Midway through the evenings entertainment presentations were made on behalf of the people of Claregalway. Vincent Lyons Chairman of Claregalway Development Association spoke of the marvellous achievement of Claire Greaney. He added that over the years many people from the parish had captured numerous All Ireland titles and that in itself was a huge honour. However for a local girl to win not alone one, but five World Championship titles, it was just a unique and extraordinary achievement. Vincent Lyons added his congratulations and thanks to her family and the teachers who guided her through to reach such a professional level at Irish Dancing. He told Claire Greaney that the people of the area were richly proud of her and her achievements and added that she was a tremendous ambassador for the area. Mr Lyons then presented Claire Greaney with Galway Crystal in recognition of her achievement on behalf of the people of the area.
Members of Claregalway Tidy Towns presented bouquets of flowers to Mary Greaney, mother of Claire Greaney and to Claire’s grandmother Winnie Greaney. Bouquets of flowers were also presented to Claire Greaney’s dancing teachers Gemma Carney, Deirdre Gallagher and Celine Hession.
Claire Greaney started dancing at the age of five and the first Feis that she took part in was in Maree Community Centre. Claire quickly became an integral part of the Celine Hession School of Dancing and weekly practise sessions gave her tremendous confidence in her own ability. However Claire was quick to acknowledge the huge encouragement that she received from her teachers at Bawnmore National School and from her parents and family members.
Speaking at the gala event local TD Noel Grealish who is a cousin of Claire Greaney said that all her family and the entire community were tremendously proud of her achievement. She was a tremendous ambassador for the area and everyone was justly proud of Claire and wished her continued success.
Claire was then joined in a spectacular dancing session by many other members of the Celine Hession School of Dancing, which included the Keaney brothers from Oranmore who were both also World champions in Irish Dancing. Fergal captured five World Dancing titles before retiring from competitive action while his brother Cathal Keaney captured a World Title along side Claire Greaney this year. Having dancers who between them had eleven world titles between them on stage together was a momentous occasion and along with the remainder of the young and not so young dancers, the huge crowd were in awe of their extraordinary talents.
Claire, who is now 21 and a fourth year Heritage Studies student at the Galway–Mayo Institute of Technology, has for the past five years successfully retained the World Title at the World Irish Dancing Championship, making her the number one female dancer in the world.
In addition to winning the All Ireland Dancing Championship, Claire has also won the British National Championship, the All Scotland’s Championship and the Great Britain Championship. Claire has performed in Spain, England and Scotland, and throughout the United States – Milwaukee, Boston, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Claire has also been the leading dancer with Trad on the Prom, a show that entertains thousands of tourists in the Salthill each year and performed in front of a 60,000-strong audience at Galway Docks during the Galway leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Claire has also starred in the film on Irish Dancing Jig.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony Claire Greaney thanked the people of the area for the wonderful support and appreciation that they had shown to her. She paid particular thanks to her dancing teachers, Gemma Carney, Deirdre Gallagher and Celine Hession. Claire also expressed her sincere gratitude to the support she received from teachers, past pupils and parents in Bawnmore National School which played a hugely important part of her success in Irish Dancing. Claire added her warm gratitude to her parents Martin Joe and Mary, her brother Alan and his wife Caroline, and to her grandmother Winnie Greaney who played an important part in her life. Claire also added her thanks to the extended family members. Claire concluded by expressing her gratitude to the organising committee who put this night together and added that being acknowledged in her home parish meant an awful lot to her. It was a night to treasure and remember.