Claddagh Dance Company is the premier Irish dancing school in Southern California. Claddagh Dance has added a touch of authentic Irish culture to the lives of Southern California communities since 1985. Students range from four to adult, learning a mix of solo and group dances in the traditional soft and hard shoes.
Claddagh is proud to include over fifty North American Championship Irish dancers in solo and team events, as well as overseas Champions. The dance school is under the direction of Máire O’Connell who moved to Ventura, California from Galway, Ireland in 1978. Ms. O’Connell has been dancing most of her life and is fully accredited to teach and adjudicate by the Irish Dancing Commission of Ireland. She has previously been active in the Irish-American community as a speaker and a judge at a variety of events, as well as a past President of the Irish American Club of Ventura. Máire is a 1995 honoree of the city of Los Angeles for her participation in the Irish Community of Southern California. In Irish dancing, she has previously been President of the Western Region of Teachers and Adjudicators. In 1999, she was invited to judge the All Scotland’s, All Ireland’s (the nations' Irish Dance Championships), and the World Championships in Ennis, Ireland. There are three additional certified teachers who run the various locations.
Gaelic is Máire’s first language and she is a graduate of University College, Galway, where she earned the credentials, B.A., H.D.E., and L.L.B. She is also fluent in Spanish and five other languages, which has been helpful since some of her students are of Spanish descent. Besides Irish and Spanish descendants who are learning Irish dancing, Máire has students of many ethnic backgrounds including Chinese, Filipino, German, Italian, and Polish. Irish dancing truly speaks to all nationalities.