HomeShoppingLouth mother and daughter demonstrate Irish dancing on hit BBC show The...

Louth mother and daughter demonstrate Irish dancing on hit BBC show The Repair Shop

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Former Lord of the Dance and Riverdance star Dearbhla Lennon and mother Mona Roddy delighted with repairs to a special costume

Mona Roddy and Dearbhla Lennon from Dundalk brought a much-loved and handed down Irish dancing costume to the workshop of dreams for the latest member of The Repair Shop’s team of experts, Rebecca Bissonnet, to repair.

The dress, which had been made for Dearbhla when she was little more than a toddler, featured a Clones lace collar and cuffs belonging to Mona.

They told the team how the collar and cuffs were made especially Mona’s very first dress around 1952 and were subsequently sewn onto new dresses as she got bigger, until she was around nineteen years of age.

Mona explained that her mother wanted her to get into music, but as they didn’t have access to instruments, she took up Irish dancing instead. She danced competitively until she was about 21 and then founded her own dance school in 1970, passing her love of dancing onto her daughters Dearbhla and Ciara, who could dance as soon as they could walk.

The collar and cuffs were sewn onto Dearbhla’s first Irish dancing costume, which in turn was passed onto scores of young dancers and eventually onto her own daughter Liadan.

Dearbhla recounted how both herself and Ciara had danced professionally and she had been in the original company for Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance and had also toured with Riverdance.

Blown away by this, Jay said “Hold on a minute, hold on. That’s like the biggest dance company in the world. They’ve toured everywhere!”

“I have been so lucky. Dancing has been so good for our family. It has really enriched our lives,” Dearbhla replied, adding that it would mean so much for them to have the dress repaired so it could be handed down to another generation.

Rebecca then set to work, painstakingly repairing the frayed Clones lacework and removing a stain from the skirt of the dress.

As they returned to the barn Mona and Dearbhla were blown away when they saw the dress looking as good as new.

And true to the promise they had made, they also gave a demonstration of Irish dancing.

Dearbhla told The Argus that they had a “watch party” last Wednesday night as the whole family gathered together in Mona’s house to view the show .

“Since the show, we’ve had loads of former dancers who had been with the school getting in touch to wish Mam well.”

“Taking part in the programme was genuinely a lovely experience. The team couldn’t have been nicer.”

She also revealed that their appearance in The Repair Shop came about after a researcher got in touch enquiring if she knew anyone with an old Irish dancing costume that needed repair.

“I was thinking that the meant the embroidered type and said I didn’t. A day or two later, I noticed the little dress hanging in my daughter’s wardrobe so I e-mailed back and then, after a couple of Zoom calls with Mona and myself, we were invited over to the barn.”

Dearbha and her mother travelled over to the Weald and Downland Living Museum in Singleton, West Sussex where The Repair Shop is filmed.

“We went over for the first half of the show in mid-August and returned for the second half in September, so we had two day trips to England. It was actually the hottest time of the year last summer, 40 degrees, and Jay had two ice-packs in his cap because of the heat!”

“It was such a lovely opportunity for my Mam and I to spend some time together.”

Mother and daughter both teach in the family-run Irish dancing school and Dearbhla, who previously worked as a tv presenter, teaches journalism in Drogheda Institute of Further Education.

“It was fascinating to visit the barn and on the second day, when we went to collect the dress, they were all celebrating as they had won a BAFTA award for best daytime television the previous night.”

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