Christine O'Riada, founder of the O'Riada-McCarty-Manning Academy of Irish Dance has passed away at home in Belfast. The Antrim-born O'Riada was without question the queen of Irish dance in Kansas City.
O’Riada received her TCRG (Teagascóir Choimisiúin le Rinci Gaelacha ) when she was just 21 and came to the US as part of a trio of dancers touring with an Irish band. The lead singer’s sister was a student here at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Christine came to visit and ended up enrolling at UMKC herself. When her twin daughters were second graders at Queen Of The Holy Rosary school, she formed an Irish dance club there which eventually became the O'Riada Academy Of Irish Dance. In recent years Christine had returned to her Belfast home, continuing to serve as an advisor to the school she founded here. She is survived by her daughters, Tara and Ciara.
Though Irish Fest is still 141 days away, I'd ask that when you see the Irish dancers on our stages over Labor Day weekend, regardless of what school they dance for, that you raise your glass to Christine O'Riada. Her influence and spirit will echo with every step.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam. All of us at the Kansas City Irish Fest express our deepest sympathy to the O'Riada family.