My name is Caitlin Brennan. I am 23 years old and I am honored to represent Bayonne, New Jersey in the 2018 Mary from Dungloe International Festival.
I am proud graduate of Rutgers University where I was one of the founding members of the Rutgers University Irish Dance Club. I am currently working as a Teacher’s Aide at Children’s Corner Preschool in the Piscataway Township school district, and will be begin work on my Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at Saint Peter’s University in September.
I attended Mount Saint Mary Academy, a Catholic high school for girls, founded by the Sisters of Mercy and rooted in the tradition of their foundress, the venerable Catherine McAuley, who hailed from Dublin. During my four years at Mount Saint Mary Academy, I learned to live by the mercy core values of justice, compassion, respect, integrity and service. The lessons I learned from the Mount are lessons that I take into the classroom every day and hope to pass on to my future students.
I am extremely proud of my Irish heritage – my father’s ancestors are from County Kerry while my mother’s ancestors are from Roscommon. My family has been such an inspiration behind the love for the country of Ireland and our Irish heritage. Every Saint Patrick’s Day, my grandparents’ house is filled with the sounds of the traditional Irish songs while the family attended the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. I am thrilled to be participating in the Mary of Dungloe Festival this year as a way to become even closer to my Irish heritage.
My true passion is Irish Dance. Some children dream of playing baseball for the Yankees, or playing football for Donegal; my dream growing up was to perform with Riverdance. I began dancing at the age of five at the Marie Moore School of Irish Dance, where I learned not only how to Irish dance, but also about my Irish heritage. Although I cried through the first three lessons, I quickly fell in love with Irish Dance and have never looked back. Throughout my eighteen years as a competitive dancer, I have been blessed to compete both nationally and internationally, placing in the top five at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Oireachtas three times as well as qualifying for several World Championships where I have placed as high as 28th in the world in solo competition. Through Irish dance I have also learned many of the traditional Irish ceili dances, which we perform often at competitions. I have been extremely to be a part of an eleven time Regional Champion eight hand ceili team for the last eight years, as well as a member of a figure team that placed third at the 2013 World Championships in Boston.
Through Irish Dance, I have built lifelong friendships, learned the value of hard work, dedication and teamwork, and learned to handle both success and disappointment. I could not imagine my life without Irish dance – it has truly help shape me into the person I am today and given me so many wonderful experiences.
While not at work or in the dance studio, I currently spend my time preparing for to take the T.C.R.G, Teagascóir Choimisiúin le Rinci Gaelacha, examination in order to become an Irish dance teacher, and in order to help teach and pass my love of Irish Dance on to young dancers.
I would like to thank the Bayonne-Donegal Association for providing me with this wonderful opportunity and I look forward to getting to know the other Mary’s.