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Sacred Heart University Irish Dancer Takes Third Place In National Championship

Cahill started dancing at age 4 and has been jet-setting around the world for dance competitions since she was 9 years old.

Rising sophomore and Sacred Heart University Claddagh dancer Maeve Cahill recently placed third in the nation at the 2022 North American Irish Dance Championships in Montreal.

Cahill's home is nestled in central Massachusetts. She's lived in Auburn for most of her life, graduating from Auburn High School before she became a Pioneer. Though dancing takes up most of her time, Cahill successfully completed her freshman year as a political science major with hopes of adding minors in Spanish and global business management.

"I've loved being at Sacred Heart. I am only going to be a sophomore next year, but my freshman year was awesome! I'm involved in a bunch of things on campus, but dance is my favorite," said Cahill.

Allison O'Riordan, SHU's Irish dance ensemble instructor, called Cahill "a fantastic dancer" to have in the University's Irish Dance Ensemble. "Maeve is not only a strong dancer but an asset to the team with her enthusiasm and willingness to put work in on a variety of numbers. She pushes herself to try something new," O'Riordan said.

Cahill started dancing at age 4 and has been jet-setting around the world for dance competitions since she was 9 years old. The McInerney School of Irish Dance in her hometown provided Cahill with all her training prior to SHU. Cahill has traveled all over the United States and parts of Europe and Canada for opportunities to test her talent in Irish dance.

She spoke of missing that after the pandemic prevented travel, and how her fellow Claddagh dancers at SHU were supportive and helpful in keeping her spirits up.

"I've been able to learn so much from the other girls on the team because they come from different studios and they have an eye for different things. They have really unique opinions that I value," said Cahill. "It's been great to be able to collaborate with other dancers in that way, and to have such great facilities, teachers and coaches supporting us at Sacred Heart."

Along with Cahill's recent win at nationals, she was crowned 19th in the world during the World Championships for Irish Dance this past April.

"I've always dreamed of being able to do my step dance on the world stage, and it was like a dream come true. And then to be able to carry it over and keep the momentum going to nationals was awesome," said Cahill. "I just was so grateful because I know my younger self would be so proud of me now."

To O'Riordan, one exciting aspect of the dancer's impressive showing is that "it puts SHU's dance program on the map for other competitive dancers. It sends the message that you can go to college and still compete at the highest level."

"Irish dance is a highly specialized, complicated, athletic and cultural performance art. It takes years of dedication and practice to be able to compete on the national and world leveIs," said O'Riordan. "I think it should be known that the level of focus and dedication to be successful, like Maeve is, is not an easy thing to do. It takes hours of practice, intense stamina and endurance."

While Cahill's dream is to go on a professional tour one day, she is currently working towards earning her teaching certification so she can pass along what she has learned to others hoping to master the skill.

"I get the privilege of teaching and helping out now, and I love it. The kids are so full of energy and they're so excited to be there, which makes me excited to be there. And they're adorable! Even the little ones are good, and I love watching them grow up," said Cahill. "I've helped mentor them a little bit and it's been awesome watching them mature in their dancing and in their personalities and advance in all aspects of life."

Cahill encourages any and all future dancers to "never give up." She recounts setbacks throughout her dance career and, instead of dwelling on the past, she always finds a reason to think positively.

"Sometimes things don't make sense, but they'll always work out the way that they're supposed to," she said.

Visit the SHU dance program webpage for more information.

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