Lake Country resident Mini McCarthy-Harley is competing at the North American Irish Dance Championship in Florida is July. - Credit: Contributed

Lake Country resident competes in Irish dance championship

Kelowna - Minirva McCarthy-Harley is dancing in the North American Irish Dance Championship

Lake Country resident Minirva McCarthy-Harley fell in love with Irish dance at three years old.

She loves the Irish culture so much she was put in dance lessons at five and started playing the violin and fiddle.

This November, McCarthy-Harley competed in the Western Canadian Oireachtas and has been invited to dance in the North American Irish Dance Championship, which takes place in Florida, June 30 to July 5.

“When they said on stage I got to go to North Americans, it was like a present,” she said.

The love of the culture started after she watched an Irish dance during Kelowna’s Taste of Home multicultural event.

Her goal with her instruments was to record herself playing the tunes and then dancing to them, but not to play them at the same time she dances, she laughed.

Irish dancing also gives McCarthy-Harley a challenge she enjoys.

“I love that I have to work so hard to reach my goal,” as the dance form is very particular, she said.

One of the biggest challenges she faced was nerves when she began, but after learning the other girls also were nervous, she evolved and grew confident in her dancing.

“Everyone I danced with is really encouraging and tells me it’s OK,” she said.

Last summer, her family also visited Ireland.

“People were playing on the streets and I just started dancing,” she said. “The people playing violin really got into it.”

The Grade 6 student at Peter Greer Elementary loves math and science and is supported by her two older, and two younger, siblings. McCarthy-Harley also participates in track and field and triathlons.

“It was a really unusual thing for someone to make it during their first Oireachtas,” said her mother, Marni McCarthy, who said her daughter ranked 17th in Western Canada.

McCarthy-Harley trained for the Oireachtas four times a week at Blakey Irish Dance school in Kelowna and the battle continues for the North American competition.

“It’s from competitors from all over North America and from Europe and the U.K.,” McCarthy said. “It is about perfection. It is about doing the steps the traditional way with perfection, with great athleticism. It’s quite a neat sport to watch.”

She trains for three to four days a week and enjoys spending time with her friends and her cat Frodo. She is the only one in her family to pursue the sport.

McCarthy-Harley hopes to dance in the World Irish Dancing Championships in Dublin one day and might become a teacher, she said.

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