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About AIDA Inc

The Australian Irish Dancing Association Incorporated (AIDA Inc) is incorporated in New South Wales under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009.
The membership of AIDA Inc consists of Irish dance teachers and adjudicators registered with An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG) - Dublin, Ireland, as well as the individual State/Territory branches representing Irish dancing across Australia.

The key objectives of the association are:

  • to bring about the co-operation between recognised associations, societies, individuals and groups interested in Irish Dancing

  • to implement and enforce the rules of CLRG subject to such modifications as may be necessary to meet local conditions

  • to conduct the annual Australian National Irish Dancing Championship

  • to liaise nationally and internationally with all relevant bodies and associations

  • to advise and support regional branches and to enhance open communications between the States

  • to encourage the teaching of techniques of Irish dancing as advocated by CLRG

  • to be the Australian liaison with CLRG


Meet the 2023 & 2024 AIDA Inc Council and Officers

The elected National Council of AIDA Inc consists of Executive Members, Regional Members representing their State or Territory, a Public Officer, Assistants and any other members the Association members elect or appoint.

QLD State Delegate

Clare McNeill-Arnall ADCRG

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WA State Delegate

Caitríona Slane TCRG

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Returning Officer and Webmaster

Margaret Dempsey TCRG


Public Officer

Glenys Ritchie TCRG

Patron and Founding Member

Janice Currie Henderson SDCRG OAM


Founding Member

Catherine Cosgriff SDCRG

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NSW State Delegate

Jonty Moore TCRG

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ACT State Delegate

Caroline O'Driscoll TCRG

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VIC State Delegate

Conor Ayres ADCRG

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State Delegate

Kelli-Rai Howden ADCRG


Chris Carswell ADCRG

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Assistant Secretary

James McEvoy-May TCRG

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Ann Truman TMRF

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Assistant Treasurer

Kate Woodward TCRG


Jennifer Bird TCRG


Vice President

Catherine Cosgriff SDCRG

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Vice President

Hilary McKenna ADCRG

1890’s - 1950’s

By the early 1900’s, Irish Dancing was gaining momentum in New South Wales, with classes being established in Sydney in the late 1890’s.

1n 1932, Victoria was the first Association in the world to have its own rule book listing strict guidelines for the wearing of Irish Dance costumes where no individuality was allowed.

Gradually each of the states formed Associations. Formal organisations were established as late as the 1950s in Queensland, ACT later still, and Western Australia a relative newcomer by comparison.

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History of AIDA Inc


Prior to 1968 various interstate and national competitions were held throughout the Irish Dancing community, quite often alternating between Sydney and Melbourne, and often including Hurling, Gaelic Football, Athletics and Pipe Band competitions along with the Irish Dancing Championships.
It was Sean Gilroy, living in S
ydney in 1968, who formally entered into discussions with Tomás Ó Faircheallaigh (Tom Farrelly), Chairman of the Irish Dancing Commission in Dublin. Through their combined efforts, and with the encouragement of the Australian teachers, the Australian Irish Dancing Association was formed. Sean Gilroy was the first President.

Irish Dancing began its Australian journey in each state independently, until formally uniting in 2004 when the Australian Irish Dancing Association Inc was incorporated.

It is unclear as to when exactly Irish Dancing first arrived in Australia, but there is evidence to suggest that Irish Dancing existed as early as the late 1800’s, including exhibitions that took place in the goldfields.


This decade started off with a bang when the first Australian won the World Irish Dancing Championships in 1980.

The 1980s saw the adjudicators sitting in full view of the public and dancers, holding up scorecards from the hall as these simple cards determined the fate of the dancers who had just completed.

Dancers paraded dressed in their beautifully embroidered costumes, emblazoned with Celtic designs, crocheted collars and sometimes cuffs, simple shawls and not a diamante in sight.


There was a choice of two shoes - Salvios in Sydney and Geonne’s soft shoes in Adelaide. Some relatives when returning from holidays in Ireland would bring back a pair of “real” Irish shoes.

Through the interval act of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, 'Riverdance' introduced the world at large to Irish Dance and the phenomena of Irish Dance shows was born. 


To have so many Australian Irish Dancers featured in all the major dance shows performing around the world is testament to the teachers and dancers of Australia who have and continue to produce a community of world-class performers.


This is the new era of Irish Dance! 

The Australian Irish Dancing Association (AIDA) was incorporated in 2004 and included all States and Territories. The inaugural general meeting was held on 13th November 2004 where the first executive was appointed: 

  • Elizabeth Lewis – President 

  • Carmel Doyle – Vice President 

  • Gabrielle Hall – Vice President 

  • Genevieve Carroll  – Secretary 

  • Cathy Siedel – Treasurer

The national council of AIDA Inc, responsible for the operations of the association, was made up of the Executive and a delegate from all member States and Territories (ACT, NSW, QLD, SA/NT, VIC/TAS, and WA). The membership of AIDA Inc was made of Teachers and Adjudicators registered with An Coimisiún le Rince Gaelacha and together are responsible for fostering the cooperation of Irish Dancing organisations in Australia and across the world and for the organisation of The Australian National Championships.


In 2014, AIDA Inc introduced a new international competition to their calendar and hosted the first Australian International Oireachtas. This competition is an annual favourite, being hosted on the Gold Coast during the Australian winter months.

We can marvel at how Irish Dance continues to spread its influence globally, how it constantly evolves and how this ‘living culture’ that we love so much and how it plays an important role in the lives of so many.


Boys stopped wearing kilts and girls’ skirts continually changed, from large panels, to triple layered ra ra's, to tulle tutus and thick bubble skirts. 

Recent years have seen the resurgence of early traditional dances blending with the current day trends, which have exploded onto the world stage. 


Our very own Australian children’s entertainment group, the Wiggles, have always included Irish Dance in their shows and now even more so with the introduction of the Yellow Wiggle, Miss Emma – who is injecting a new level of enthusiasm with her love of Irish Dance strongly woven into the shows.  Along with the other colourful Wiggles – Purple, Blue and Red, the tradition of Irish Dance is integrated into the homes of every child, through television and live shows. 


The world of social media is a wonderful way to connect all parts of the Irish Dance World. Our dancers continue to be inspired by the international success of the nine Australian solo dancers and six teams who have been crowned as World Champions. These dancers not only represent excellence in our art form, but they are a shining example of what is possible for Australian dancers to achieve.


The first Australian Championships were held in Melbourne in 1968. The first convention was held at the Irish National Association Centre in Sydney in January 1969.

In 1969, Tomás Ó Faircheallaigh and Marie Walsh (an examiner) made the trip to Australia to attend a special general meeting held on 5 September 1969 in Sydney. There were delegates from Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales in attendance.  Tom and Marie then went on to adjudicate the 2nd Australian Championships and conduct the first Australian exams in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in September 1969. 


The 1970s, saw the introduction of the first World Irish Dancing Championship organised by An Coimisiún le Rince Gaelacha. There was solo, ceili and figure dancing and the introduction of the Dance Drama Championship. A team of dancers was able to portray an Irish theme or story through dance, performing to music of Irish origin and the dancers were able to wear costumes that complemented the story that they were telling.

The second convention was held at St Matthews, North Fawkner, Victoria on 24 and 25 January 1970. At this convention the Executive for the National Body was elected for the following year – Mary Barrett – President, Catherine Cosgriff – Secretary, Bernadette Touhy – Treasurer. The “National Body” each year was the executive of the State that was hosting the Championships.


The 1990s were Australia's Irish Dance boom time. Around the globe, Irish Dance shows began hitting the world stage, while at home in Australia, the Wiggles also began featuring Irish Dance in videos and at concerts. Irish Dance seemed to be everywhere and Australian kids jumped on board.

Choreography underwent dramatic reform. The 90s also heralded major changes in dance costumes.

For the first time, our National Championships were hosted in Perth and the presence of our dancers at the World Championships flourished.

Arguably one of the biggest influences of change in Irish Dancing in Australia during the 1990s was the birth of Irish Dance shows. 

Order of Australia Medal (OAM) Recipients
World Championship Honourees

Janice Currie-Henderson OAM SDCRG

Received the Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honour list in 2019 for her lifetime of service to Irish Dancing.


Margaret Atkinson OAM ADCRG


Received the Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day Honour list in January 2018 for her lifetime of service to Irish Dancing. 


Catherine Cosgriff SDCRG and Janice Currie-Henderson OAM SDCRG


Honoured at the 2018 CLRG World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. 

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Glasgow 2007

Margaret Atkinson SA

Catherine Cosgriff VIC

Jan Currie-Henderson NSW

Trish Williams QLD

Philadelphia 2009

Jan Berne NSW

Margaret Dempsey VIC

Carmel Doyle SA

Gabrielle Hall VIC

Vicki Lynagh QLD

Deirdre Murphy SA

Christine Portbury QLD

Brendan Tiernan NSW

Maureen Whelan NSW


Boston 2013

Kathryn Challen SA

Mary Cunningham QLD

Ann Derwent NSW

Geraldine French NSW

Mary Grantham VIC

Kathleen McAleer VIC

Alison Pickett SA

Peggy Walker QLD

“These awards are made in recognition of a lifetime working diligently to safeguard and preserve Ár Rincí Gaelacha and also to acknowledge and appreciate their contribution to An Coimisiún”

Gradam Awards 

1980 - Fiona - Gaye Snowden (15 - 17 Years Ladies - Ransley NSW)

1996 - Conor Hayes (Senior Mens - Cosgriff VIC)

2006 - Shaun Higgins (Men 17 - 18 Years - Scoil Rince Aisling NSW)

2006 - Nicole Zepcevski (Senior Ladies - Scoil Rince Aisling NSW)

2014 - Ceili Moore (Under 20 Ladies - Fiona Gaye Moore NSW)

2015 - Conor Simpson (Under 21 Mens - Simpson ACT)

2018 - Liam Costello (Under 16 Boys - McGahan Lees Creer UK/NSW)
2018 - Jonty Moore (Under 20 Men - Fiona Gaye-Moore NSW)
2019 - Liam Costello (Under 17 Boys - McGahan L
ees Creer UK/NSW)

2022 - Liam Costello (Under 20 Men - McGahan Lees Creer UK/NSW)

2023 - Liam Costello (Under 21 Men - McGahan Lees Creer UK/NSW)

2023 - Dara McAleer and Liam Costello (Freestyle Competition Winners)

2024 - Vaughan Cooper (Under 21 Men - WA Academy WA)

2024 - Liam Costello (Over 21 Men - McGahan Lees Creer UK/NSW)

Australian Solo World Champions

1979 - Ransley Studio NSW (Own Choreography)
1979 - Ransley Studio NSW (Dance Drama)

1984 - Chase Academy QLD (Dance Drama)

2012 - Christine Ayres School VIC (Senior Girls Figure Dance Over 16)
2012 - Christine Ayres School VIC (Senior Mixed Figure Dance Over 16)
2018 - Christine Ayres School VIC (Mixed Figure Over 13)

2024 - Christine Ayres School VIC (Senior Mixed 8 hand Ceili)

Australian Ceili (Team) World Champions
AIDA Inc Life Members

Margaret Atkinson OAM ADCRG

Christine Ayres ADCRG

Raymond Ayres ADCRG

Mary Barrett (dec) ADCRG

Sue Beaton (dec) ADCRG

Jan Berne SDCRG

Jennifer Bird TCRG

Glenalee Bromilow ADCRG

Donna Reilly-Cannon ADCRG

Genevieve Carroll ADCRG

Kathryn Challen ADCRG

Anne Marie Clarence TCRG

Charmaine Chase ADCRG

Helen Conway ADCRG

Catherine Cosgriff SDCRG

Susan Crombie ADCRG

Val Crowley ADCRG

Janice Currie-Henderson OAM SDCRG

Margaret Dempsey TCRG

Patsy Denneny (dec) ADCRG

Ann Derwent ADCRG

Carmel Doyle SDCRG

Teresa Fenton TCRG

Heather Fraser TCRG

Sean Gilroy (dec) ADCRG

Mary Grantham SDCRG

Elizabeth Gregory ADCRG

Gabrielle Hall SDCRG

Donna Halloran ADCRG

Kate Hartley ADCRG

Bernadette Helbig TCRG

Kelli-Rai Howden ADCRG

Elizabeth Howe ADCRG

Yvette Jackson ADCRG

Dorn Kelly TCRG

Elizabeth Lewis SDCRG

Margaret Lahl TCRG

Jacinta Lardner ADCRG

Vicki Lynagh ADCRG

Maria Maher TCRG

Charmaine May ADCRG

Kathleen McAleer ADCRG

Deirdre McGorry TCRG

Joan McGrath ADCRG

Leonie McHardy ADCRG

Patricia McMenamin ADCRG

Jackie Miller TCRG

Deirdre Murphy ADCRG

Rose O'Brien ADCRG

Yvonne O’Brien (dec) ADCRG

Geraldine O’Shea-Ryan ADCRG

Breeda Peirce ADCRG

Alison Pickett TCRG

Ciara Podesta TCRG

Christine Portbury SDCRG

Monica Poulton ADCRG

Anna Rabusin ADCRG

Nicola Rochford TCRG

Josie Ryan (dec) ADCRG

Cathy Seidel TCRG

Frances Stokes TCRG

Brendan Tiernan ADCRG

Rosemary Theisz ADCRG

Kathryn Trenholme TCRG

Bernadette Touhy ADCRG

Bernadette Weeks ADCRG

Patsy Wicking ADCRG

Maureen Whelan (dec) SDCRG

Patricia Williams ADCRG

Jacqueline Wilson Associate


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