Sean Kilkenny BA, H.Dip in Education, TCRG.
Sean is a teacher of Geography in a Dutch bi-lingual school, Wolfert van Borselen, Rotterdam, and in his free time he enjoys teaching the art of Irish dance.. Since leaving Ireland some 18 years ago he has lived and worked as a school teacher in New Orleans, London, Kuwait, Frankfurt and is now happily settled into the Dutch way of life.
Born in the east Galway parish of Ballymacward-Gurteen, Sean learned his first steps from his mother and older sisters and was highly influenced by local dancers in the sean-nos ( traditional ) style. At the age of 11 he joined the Anne O Loughlin School of Irish dance in Loughrea, Co Galway, and before long went on to enjoy the world of competition and performance. This school toured the east coast cities of the USA in 1975 and 1979 and performed for President Carter in the White House.
During his teenage years many enjoyable evenings were spent in his local parish hall of Ballymacward where many of the local musicians singers and dancers congregated and produced high quality productions often depicting local traditions and customs such as the “American Wake”, the tradition of Mumming and a favourite was always “The Bonefire”. Many of these traditions still survive and its from this that Sean gets his inspiration for stage production and entertainment.
In 1980 college life was to take Sean away from the limestone plains of east Galway and while living in Dublin during the 1980ies he quickly made his way into the emerging Irish music scene, at a time when it was neither popular or Kool ! As a keen listener of Irish tunes he was often invited to perform with bands such as Arcady, Altan and Stockton’s Wing and is featured on the Chieftains album Bells of Dublin. Step dancing remained very much an important aspect and for a time Sean, along with fiddler Mairin Fahy, attended the Inis Ealga School of ID.
Sean toured the world with a West of Ireland group called a “Taste of Ireland”. This was an excellent show featuring many present well known artists. This group toured the world three times during the 80ies and 90ies. His dance partner for this show was cousin Yzanne Cloonan ( Riverdance ) who has been very influential in the growth and development of Kilkenny dance school.
While dancing for Sean has become and integral part of his life his first dedication is in the classroom, inspiring his students to think critically and analyse the world around them through his teaching of Geography alongside preparing students for International Model United Nations conferences. Classroom teaching methodologies are easily transferred to the dance floor and as a result his dancers make rapid progress in a structured yet friendly setting. Classes are lively, energetic and entertaining but at times demanding. Strong emphasis is placed on developing the appropriate style and technique associated with the modern authentic style of Irish step dancing. His broad aim is to inspire a love and appreciation in his students of this art form, at the same time encouraging them to work hard at the proper execution of its intricate moves. Kilkenny dancers are now preparing for their own certification and will soon take on the challenge of the TCRG examination thus furthering the tree of knowledge of Irish Dancing in the Netherlands and beyond.
One big moment for Sean was when he was invited to attend Michael Flatley’s show, Celtic Tiger in the Ahoy Rotterdam. The then Kilkenny dancer Stefan Setiawan danced in this show. Along with colleague Ann Gallagher TCRG, both got to meet the King of ID and exchanged many kind words.
In 2003, Sean, alongside Ann Gallagher TCRG and Mary Sweeney ADCRG, played a historic role in founding the Irish dance teachers association for Mainland European countries called RTME. Registered Teachers Mainland Europe. This is the sole affiliate of the Commission of Irish Dancing in mainland Europe and beyond and it now has more than 40 registered schools in 30 different countries. Sean was Chairman of this organisation for the first three years of its existence and was instrumental in getting the first Oireachtas ( Mainland European Championships and World Qualifiers ) off the ground in Frankfurt, Germany in 2004. Ten years on Sean was honoured to be part of the organising team who hosted the 2014 Championships in his home city of The Hague.