Posted by Bridget, Citizens’ Advocacy Representative
Hi, my name is Bridget and I work as a Citizens’ Advocacy Representative at Tom’s of Maine, which means I help answer consumer questions about our natural toothpaste, natural deodorant, and other personal care products. Every once in a while a phone caller will say to me, “Your name is Bridget? Are you Irish?”
What I would like to say is, “You have no idea.”
For almost as long as I can remember – really since I was four years old – my Irish heritage has been a part of my life. My parents originally enrolled my older sister, Morrigan, and I in Irish Step dancing classes in Connecticut with the simple hope of us learning about our culture. Little did they know they would spend the next fifteen years traveling the country for shows, festivals and competitions.
Fast forward to today, and my sister and I are now both young adults living in Southern Maine. We’re busy with work and family, but still we make time to keep Irish Dance a part of our lives. One way we do this is by volunteering with the Irish American Club of Maine as Irish Ceili Instructors.
Irish Ceili is a form of Irish Dance similar to square dancing, or contra dancing. It is largely social and appropriate for just about any age or ability level. Dance formation ranges from groups of two to sixteen, and the steps are often progressive, allowing multiple groups to interact with each other during the course of one tune – which, if you have a live band, could go on forever! The term Ceili can also be used to describe the social gathering where the traditional dancing and music takes place.
For our volunteer work, Morrigan and I teach three, six-week sessions of Ceili classes throughout the year. We also coordinate the dancing portion of monthly Ceilis held at a local Irish pub, and hold the occasional advanced Ceili workshop, complete with potluck dinner.
Having the volunteer benefit through Tom’s of Maine means that I get to help one of my favorite local organizations keep Irish culture alive in Maine, in a way that ultimately keeps my dance skills in check… while also being a lot of fun! Just watch this video to see!