Thursday, May 16, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Local Talents Bring Home Global Spotlight

In April 2024, the prestigious WIDA (World Irish Dance Association) World Championships took place in Belgium, providing a platform for Irish dancers worldwide to showcase their skills. The championship spanned approximately five days, beginning with the Grade Feis, followed by team events and later concluded in The World Championships.
Isabella Cummins, also known as Issey, began dancing at the age of 2. Since then, she has flourished into a phenomenal talent and is now a seven-year-old with a multitude of impressive accomplishments. Issey’s favourite part of her recent trip was not only winning, but also making new friends, travelling with her dance school and “having adventures”.  
Rebecca Cummins, Issey's proud mother says that “Watching Issey dance is unreal; I honestly can’t believe how amazing she is.”
Sarah Purnell, age 29, started her journey of Irish dance at the age of 5 in Mackay and since then, Sarah's dedication has led her to international acclaim. After winning the World Championships in 2021 and securing runner-up in 2023, Sarah continues to inspire as she embarks on defending her title in 2025. Beyond the stage, Sarah is committed to nurturing the next generation of dancers as an Assistant Teacher at Claddagh School of Irish Dance.
With a passion that began at the age of 4, Isabella Shields, now aged 15, performs at community events and is working towards her grade 6 Irish examination in September which consists of solo dancing, group dancing, general knowledge and speaking Gaelic. Bella also plans to compete at the World Championships in 2025.

Eilish Tierney, aged 13, started dancing in Galway Ireland in 2015 at the age of 4. When she moved to Queensland she joined Claddagh School of Irish Dance. Ultimately Eilish would love to dance for the rest of her life and make a career out of it.

Colette Shields, teacher and owner of Claddagh School of Irish Dance Mackay and Marian is extremely proud of all the girls for their hard work and dedication in the lead up to the event as well as their amazing camaraderie shown at the championships.


Isabella Cummins age 7
International Grade Feis: 1st Intermediate Premiership, 1st Intermediate Light Jig, 1st Intermediate Slip Jig, 1st Primary Slip Jig, 1st Beginner Trebble Jig, 3rd Primary Trebble Jig, 4th Traditional Set
World Championships: 1st Under 8

Sarah Purnell age 29
World Championships: 1st Under 30, 2nd 2 Hand under 30 with Isabella Shields, 3rd Solo Charity Trebble Reel (Show Dance).

Isabella Shields 15
International Grade Feis: 2nd Intermediate Premiership 2nd under 30 2 Hand, 5th under 17 2 Hand.
World Championships: 24th Under 15.

Eilish Tierney age 13
International Grade Feis, 1st Beginner Hornpipe, 3rd Primary Hornpipe, 4th Intermediate Slip Jig, 4th Intermediate Trebble Jig, 7th Intermediate Premiership.
World Championships: Recalled placed 15th under 13.

Sarah Purnell, Colette Shields and Isabella (Issey) Cummins
Eilish Tierney, aged 13
Isabella (Issey) Cummins age 7
Sarah Purnell age 29
Isabella Shields 15
Images Supplied

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