History of RCCEA

Irish Step dancing instruction throughout the Mainland of Europe before the advent of Riverdance in 1994 was sporadic. Riverdance and Lord of the Dance took Europe by storm, which aroused a huge interest from many (mostly adults) who wanted to learn this dance form. Before long classes in “Irish Tap”, as it became commonly known, sprung up in every major town and city across Europe. To satisfy the demand, weekend workshops were organised in many cities (mostly by modern Tap schools) with instruction given by visiting teachers, but also by a few Irish dancers living and working on the Mainland, mostly in Germany and the Nethelands. It was this latter group who sowed the seeds for what is now known as R.C.C.E.A. It would  be fair to say that three of these (Ann Gallagher, Mary Sweeney and Sean Kilkenny) had significant input in getting the ball rolling, with the goal of developing an association of CLRG on the Mainland of Europe. 


In early 2001 an Open Meeting was organised by Ann Gallagher and held in Bergen op Zoom/ the Netherlands for all those wishing to become involved. Seamus O Shea, Chairperson of CLRG met with an enthuastic group of 13 teachers from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and he assured all present that CLRG were ready and willing to establish an organisation outside of Ireland and the U.K. These were exciting times and all 13 present went home excited and fuelled. Provisions were made for non-qualified teachers to apply for registration on a Temporary or Conditional basis. The late Seamus Mac Conuladh had also, at this time, approved provisions for Feiseanna to be registered on the Continent where all Irish dance groups with dancers wishing to compete could apply directly to the Feis organisers. Following this meeting, the ground work had been set.


Subsequently, CLRG introduced a position of Liason Officer to cordinate and liase with dance teachers on the continent. This task was excellently carried out by Terry Gillan from approximately 2002 until 2005. In September of 2003, Terry convened a meeting in Frankfurt, Germany which resulted in the foundation of R.T.M.E. The name was chosen to distinguish between those teachers who were registered with CLRG and those who were not. From this date on, dance teachers on the continent would now have representation, via its Chairperson, at CLRG meetings in Dublin. The first set of Officers of this association were elected and included:

Chairperson: Sean Kilkenny – Netherlands;

Secretary: Michel Andries – Belgium;

Treasurer: Ann Gallagher – Netherlands;

Feis Registrar: Mary Sweeney – Germany.


While not without its teething problems, this historic development lay the foundation and set structures in place for all those on the Mainland wishing to join the oldest and largest Irish dance teachers association worldwide. From a mere handful of teachers in 2003, this group has now exploded to over 80 registered members. Before long it became evident that many Irish dancers on the mainland of Europe had reached a standard of being capable to compete at World Level.  Hence, the first major task of R.T.M.E. was to organise its 1st Oireachtas Rince na hEorpa, which took place in Frankfurt am Maine, on December 4th and 5th, 2004.


If you would like to read more on how Irish dancing has grown in specific countries and areas across the continent of Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Asia, which we proudly ecompass to date, or indeed have any events/happenings you would like to contribute as historical significance, do please contact us and send us your information.