About

A letter from an alumni dancer

Welcome to the McGonagle School of Irish Dance

The McGonagle School of Irish Dance is more than its name implies. It’s a family of over 100 dancers who share a love for Irish dance and culture. Step into the little-known world of Irish dance, and you’ll find a long and evolving history. In the same way, the McGonagle School has grown and developed over the past twenty years, but its family atmosphere and commitment to training accomplished and confident Irish dancers remains the same. 

McGonagle is a place for discovering traditional and modern Irish dance and developing deep-rooted friendships. From beginners to champion dancers, there is a sense of camaraderie, built through shared practice, performance, and School events, like the annual Ceili. McGonagle is accredited for competition, and dancers often perform all over New England, especially around St. Patrick’s Day. Our students have successfully competed in feisianna all over the East Coast, as well as Montreal and Quebec, Canada. Through it all, our talented teacher and founder, Brenda Hamilton Coleman, as well as teacher Ashlyn Rockwell, parents, and fellow-students offer support and encouragement.

We take the Irish dance forms seriously, but that doesn’t mean our students don’t have fun! Practice often leads to life-long friendships that extend far beyond the studio walls. McGonagle dancers who have gone on to other studies and professions hang onto the memories and friends they made here. They always have a home at McGonagle and take pride in seeing new dancers begin their own life-changing journey.

On a personal note, I danced with McGonagle for over ten years. Coming in as a “late-bloomer” at the age of ten (many dancers begin as early as six-years-old), I was worried I wouldn’t fit in. But the welcoming atmosphere of parents, students, and teachers made me feel right at home. I found that no matter what age you start, there’s a place for everyone in the world of Irish dance. My fellow-dancers became more than classmates. Looking back, my McGonagle friends are more like family. They’ve been there for me through the disappointments and triumphs of competition, the joys and fears of performance, and the ups and downs of daily life. 

As an indicator of just how much McGonagle School has meant to me, I wore white ghillies (Irish dancing shoes) on my wedding day and had the honor of sharing a group dance at the reception. It was so important to me that those same friends who welcomed me into McGonagle my first day, including Brenda, and those who joined us along the way like Ashlyn, were there to share that most important day of my life. Irish dancing has led me to an insatiable interest in Irish culture, a circle of genuine friendships, and a love of dance that will stay with me forever. 

We’re glad you’re here, and we’re excited that you or your child may be joining the McGonagle School. Come see how Brenda and Ashlyn's dedication and passion for Irish step dancing can get your feet flying, stomping, and tapping. You won’t be able (or want) to stop!