The first week of April will be one to remember in Montréal. Running from April 2 to 9, the World Irish Dancing Championships will unite thousands of guests in our verdant city. The costumes and talent alone are reasons to celebrate this glorious get-together, but the coolest thing is: this isn’t the first time Montréal has hosted it. Why? Because Montréal and Ireland go hand in glove.
Irish roots so deep they’re on our flag
The first Irish person arrived in Canada in circa 1661, and that was in Montréal. Tadhg Cornelius O’Brennan arrived here as the first in a wave of Irish Catholic immigration. Almost two centuries later, on March 17, 1824, the honourable Michael O’Sullivan organized the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Montréal. It signaled the beginning of the Mass Irish Migration of the early-to-mid 19th century. In 1834 Irish nationalist and intellectual Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan was elected to the provincial government; in 1867 Thomas D’Arcy McGee entered Parliament. He was to become a Father of Confederation.
All this to say: Irish immigration was foundational not only to the country, but specifically to Montréal. It’s been such an essential part of the Montréal flavour, in fact, that our city flag depicts a shamrock – alongside a fleur-de-lys for the French, a rose for the English and Welsh, a thistle for the Scots, and a pine tree for the Indigenous peoples. Together they represent peace, harmony and concord.
We call that a reason to dance!
For any Irish visitors to the city, it feels a bit like home away from home. The World Irish Dancing Championships is here for the second time, and Montréal has hosted the North American Championships twice already as well. We’re so honoured to roll out the red carpet once more!
The breadth and scope of the championships are impressive: the event will welcome more than 6,000 guests from all over the world to the Montréal convention centre, Palais des congrès, and will occupy over 18,000 hotel rooms and event spaces. The championships will help cement Montréal’s reputation on the international cultural stage and strengthen its position as a destination for major competitions.
The Palais des congrès is just the kind of vast, adaptable space an event of this magnitude requires. Organized annually by the Irish Dancing Commission, the championships celebrate all forms of Irish dancing, including step dancing, céili dancing and other team dancing. Aside from the competitions, there will be a slew of social events, many of which call for special attire.
Keep exploring Montréal’s Irish side
To discover more of Montréal’s Irish roots, we’ve got a great guide of activities you can easily fit into a business trip to the city. And we encourage you to come back in June for the Bloomsday Montréal Festival. May the wind be at your back!
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