Croatian Irish Dance

I saw on Twitter the other day a story about 35 year old Paul O’Grady who quit his day job as an architect in Ireland, moved to Croatia and opened an Irish dance school in Zagreb.  The story caught my eye because I’m of Croatian/Irish decent – my paternal grandparents are from Croatia, Jastrebarsko to be exact.  I thought this was very cool and had to explore a little further.  I read that O’Grady’s school, Irish Maiden which opened in 2006, has over 100 students and there are 4 other Irish dance troupes and 13 bands (according to O’Grady) that play Irish music in Croatia! Not that Irish dancing and music isn’t popular all over the world – we all know that it is – I just never expected Croatia would have that much interest in Irish Dance especially because Croatians have their own cultural dancers in the Tamburitzans. I could also be operating on outdated info. My dad and his sisters were first generation Croatian Americans and you would think there was no other heritage except Croatian. The leader of the Youngstown Tamburizans lived 4 houses down from us and was Dad’s childhood friend. Naturally he wanted me to take dance lessons with her. Mom being Irish wouldn’t accept that and wanted me to take Irish dance. A compromise was struck and I took ballet, jazz and tap. I’m sure that somewhere Mom’s delighted that she ultimately won now that I’m taking Irish dance all these years later and the focus of our family is our Irish heritage! I did a bit of research to see if there’s a Zagreb feis but it doesn’t look that there is – yet. I’m sure with the interest in Irish dance in Croatia that it will only be a matter of time before we that happen – perhaps with Paul O’Grady’s help. There is a Budapest feis however and since my husband has to travel to Hungary on occasion maybe he time a visit around the feis so Marina and I can tag along. I read once that my maiden name of Kolar is actually a Hungarian name (I think I just heard Dad flip in his grave) so it would be fun to do some family research as well! Better start the travel account! Til next time – Slainte!

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