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Head over heels in love with the art of cheerleading



Lifestyle – Jessica Thompson meets members of the Irish Cheerleading Team and finds a determination to banish pom-pom image

When we think about cheerleading, we think long legs, short skirts and pom-poms, thanks to the clichés that are American high school movies which often place cheerleaders on the sidelines of major sports events.

But the reality is that cheerleading is an official sport, with major sports events of its own, and is possibly far more thrilling, dangerous and energetic than football or basketball.

In fact, there are even World Championships in Cheerleading and the Irish Cheerleading Team is travelling to Florida to compete this month.

“You have to be incredibly fit and strong to do the tumbles and stunts,” said Fiona Collumb, manager of Team Ireland, who founded Ace High Cheer in Tuam a few years ago.

“We don’t use poms; there’s choreography but we’re trying to break through the barrier,” she added, stressing that cheerleading is far from the cliché we see in the movies.

The Irish Cheerleading Team travelled to Florida on Tuesday to compete in the International Cheer Union (ICU) World Cheerleading Championships this weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Team Ireland formed in May 2013 with the intention of travelling to Florida to represent Ireland in the world championships and to build and develop the sport of cheerleading within Ireland. The team will compete against the likes of Team USA and Team England who have been training for years.

“Cheerleading is underestimated. It’s overlooked as more of a playful pastime than a serious sport. Cheer is very physically and mentally challenging and is a lot more difficult than it looks,” said 15-year-old Galway City native Anna Clarke, who will be competing in Florida this month.

“When stunts and tumbles are attempted without proper training, you are most definitely at risk. It involves a lot of personality, attitude, fitness and endurance.”

Anyone can get involved with cheerleading and the Galway organisations currently facilitate people of all shapes and sizes.

“There are men and women, aged as young as three and a half to cheerleaders in their forties and fifties. It doesn’t matter about shape or size. Everyone has a place in cheerleading. Shape, size and weight are not an issue,” said Miss Collumb.

There are currently around 15,000 cheerleaders in the various cheerleading groups in Ireland, with each squad training regularly to move from level one to level six in skill, with the latter being the most difficult.

The World Championships in Florida are level five and Team Ireland has been training hard to meet the incredibly high standards they will face at the end of the month. Training currently takes place in Galway every Saturday and Sunday and the team members travel from across the country to practice.

There are numerous cheerleading organisations in Galway at the moment, according to Fiona. The Galway City Cougars are based in the city; Ace High Cheer is based in Tuam. There are also teams in Headford and Claremorris.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.


Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be



Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce.

Folk duo Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce are launching their new album What Will We Be, a  blend of folk, Americana and acoustic music, this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc.

The success of their well-received 2020 release Taobh le Taobh, as well as recent successes at the Pan Celtic and Oireachtas Song Contests, spurred the duo on to record this new album which represents many years of collaboration and musical development.

It features Niall and Pádraic on vocals, harmonies, and acoustic guitars, Maidhc Ó hÉanaigh on double bass and Neil Fitzgibbon on fiddle. The catchy title track, What Will We Be, features contributions from percussionist Jim Higgins (The Stunning, Christy Moore, Paul Brady) and haunting, driving melodies on vocals, guitar, and fiddle.

Themes of love and hope are woven through Come Away with Me which features interplay between piano and fiddle as well as rich vocal harmonies.

People, places, and broken dreams are celebrated and lamented on Martin and Tom, Guitar Gold, Memories of You and Achill Island. The influence of David Henry Thoreau’s novel Walden features on the tracks Simple and Wise and Walden, with the beauty of nature, escape and simple pleasures at their core.

The album moves from minimalistic folk ballads such as Galway Ghost to swirling, string-laden arrangements on the song Neptune, both of which are influenced by maritime tales from Galway. Much of the work on this album was supported by the Arts Council, including work with musical arranger Eoin Corcoran and the string ensemble Treo.

The album will be launched this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in an Taibhdhearc. Tickets €22, plus booking fee at

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All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh



Most of the competitions for young musicians will take place this Saturday in Dunmore Community School. All the competitions are open to the public.

Dunmore is the place to be this weekend for lovers of traditional music, as the Galway County Fleadh will take place there from this Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 23.

It is 10 years since Dunmore last hosted a fleadh and the local Comhaltas branch, which has re-formed since Covid, is looking forward to facilitating this gathering of music, song, dance and craic.

The official Opening Concert will take place in Dunmore Town Hall this Friday at 8pm with the acclaimed Mulcahy family from Limerick. Mick, Louise and Michelle are well known throughout the country, thanks to their live performances, television appearances and numerous CDs. They were the winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Grúpa Ceoil Award for 2023.  Tickets for their concert can be purchased on the door and a great night of music is promised.

Two days of competitions will kick off this Saturday at the town’s Community School, with more than 1,500 competitors taking part. Participants will be hoping to qualify for the Connacht Fleadh 2023, which will be held in Ballina, County Mayo, from June 23 to July 2.

Competitions for those aged Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15 will be held in a large variety of instruments on Saturday, as well as in singing and Comhrá Gaeilge. Sunday’s competitions will be for the Under 18 and Over 18 ages groups, as well as in dancing.

On both days a large entry is expected for Grúpaí Cheoil and Céilí Band competitions across all age groups.

Seventeen Comhaltas branches from across Galway will have participants in this weekend’s competitions, which will result in a large number of visitors to the Dunmore area.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the competitions, which offer a great opportunity to hear and see the talent on display. There will be sessions in local pubs over the weekend as well and everybody is welcome to attend these.

For more information on the County Fleadh, go to


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Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday



Pianist Cédric Pescia.

Music for Galway’s concert with renowned Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia which had been due to take place on April 27 but which had to be deferred, will now take place next Tuesday, May 23, at 8pm, in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the University of Galway.

This concert of German classics with Bach at its core, will brings the Bach element of Music for Galway’s 41st season to an end.

This world-class pianist who won the famous Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition, has a repertoire that spans many eras from baroque to contemporary and he is widely known for his elaborate programmes. Cédric Pescia describes music as  ‘language and movement at the same time’.

Audiences will have a chance to experience his soft, clear touch as he performs a programme for solo piano that will include classics such as Schumann’s popular Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), a suite of nine short pieces, and the penultimate of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, No. 31.  These pieces will be interspersed with French Suites by Bach.

■ Ticket for Cédric Pescia’s concert are available at, or by phone 091 705962 and on the door on the night. They cost €20/€18. The price for fulltime students of all ages is €6 while MfG Friends can avail of the friends’ rate of €16.

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