Lincoln-Way Central students help secure World Title in Irish Dancing
Friday, April 21, 2017

On Thursday, April 13, 2017, Lincoln-Way Central freshmen Anna and Olivia McMahon, along with six fellow team members, secured the World Title in Irish Dancing. The competition was Anna and Olivia’s second consecutive first-place title, as well as their fourth time competing at the World level.

Nearly 100 Irish dance teams competed in the event, which was held at the City West Hotel and Convention Center in Dublin, Ireland; the competition was confirmed to be the largest in history. Teams competed from many countries including Ireland, England/Wales, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, and the United States.

Anna McMahon says, “The most exciting part of the competition was taking the stage to perform for the judges. Our team was prepared and confident, we put the hours in, and worked so hard to get to that moment. I will never forget watching the scoreboard at awards and the announcement that Lavin-Cassidy Team from Mid-America USA were World Champions once again. It was an amazing feeling to defend our title.”

The sisters began Irish dancing when they were only five years old. Their father, Brian McMahon, was born in County Clare, Ireland; it was important to him that his daughters try Irish dance to “learn some of the traditions of their heritage.” As their talent and love of the sport grew, so did their number of awards. Collectively, Anna and Olivia have won a total of 12 Regional, National, All-Ireland, and World Titles together; they are the most decorated team members and sisters in Lavin-Cassidy School history.

Brian McMahon, says, "To think I enrolled my daughters in Irish dance as part of their heritage and for them to become the champions they are today makes me extremely proud. I will never forget the day I enrolled them in classes with Lavin-Cassidy School, and appreciate the work ethic taught to them from their teachers. I will also never forget the cooperation and support we have received from the staff and instructors of Mokena School District 159 and Lincoln-Way Central School District 210, all with the goal to make the girls' dreams come true."

In order to prepare for competition, the Lavin-Cassidy School of Irish Dancing U16 8-Hand Ceili Team practices three to five days a week for three hours each day in Worth, Illinois. The team of eight is taught by instructors Ann Lavin-Cassidy, Laura Stack-Finn, Caoimhe Cassidy, and Emma Jordan.

Among the many benefits of perfecting her talent, Olivia McMahon says that friendship outweighs the rest. “The best part about Irish Dancing is definitely the friendships I've made. My teammates and I have been through so much together; we are friends for life!”

Despite a busy practice schedule, Anna and Olivia still manage to excel in school academics and athletics. According to their father, “Irish Dancing has conditioned the girls to have the fitness and stamina to compete in other sports.” Anna and Olivia are both members of the Lincoln-Way Central Sophomore Golf Team; Anna also runs track while Olivia sings in the choir. Olivia is on the Honor Roll and Anna is on the High Honor Roll while taking honors and advanced placement (AP) classes.

Anna and Olivia’s mother, Nicolette McMahon, says, “I am beaming with pride over my daughters' accomplishments. Anna and Olivia work hard to do their best whether it be schoolwork, grades, sports, extracurricular activities, community service or friendships. They have proven that hard work pays off. Irish dance has taught the girls to be competitive, how to work with others to accomplish set goals, manage their time balancing work/school, and to win and lose graciously. I could go on and on about how this sport has prepared them for adulthood. Irish Dance has given them the opportunity to travel and experience the world."