Competitive Dancers from the Irish Examiner Archives, 1920s–1940s


Competitive dancing in Ireland is probably as old as dancing itself in the country, but the first substantial evidence for it comes from the 19th century. Dancing masters frequently danced against each other for the control of teaching territories, and men and women for community prestige. With the establishment of the Gaelic League in 1893 and its competitive cultural festivals which included solo and group dances, dancing competitions became much more organised. Professional dancing schools were set up and dancing costume began to evolve.

The Irish Examiner (formerly The Cork Examiner), was founded as a nationalist newspaper in Cork in 1841. It was one of the earliest Irish newspapers to use photographs. Many of its oldest photographic plates were destroyed in a serious fire in the newspaper’s premises in 1927, but the many surviving glass negatives in its archive document a wide range of Irish social life in Munster in the first half of the 20th century. They include coverage of Irish competitive dancers.

The selection of Irish dancing images presented here were researched by ITMA staff in the premises of The Irish Examiner in 1992. They are reproduced with the kind permission of The Irish Examiner in whose copyright they belong.

For picture sales contact The Irish Examiner +353 (0)21 4272722.

NC, 1 February 2009

Competitive Dancers from the Irish Examiner Archives, 1920s–1940s