Riverdance at the Celtic Cafe


The Special Olympics torch, the Flame of Hope, is due to blaze through the streets of Dublin on the morning of June 21, heralding the arrival of the day of the spectacular Opening Ceremony for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the largest sporting event in the world.

Riverdance and Tyrone Productions join with the Honourable Nelson Mandela, Ireland's President Mary McAleese, Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Bono, U2, the Corrs, Samantha Mumba, Ronan Tynan and more lead a strong line-up of celebrities and stars from the world of international sport and show business taking part in the entertainment and celebrations, with Patrick Kielty acting as Master of Ceremonies for the night. The Special Olympics celebrate the abilities of folks with disabilities, bringing together 7,000 extraordinary athletes from over 160 countries for the first time to collectively celebrate their achievement at reaching the 2003 World Summer Games. The athletes themselves will play prominent parts in the production: raising the Special Olympics flag, swearing the Special Olympics Oath, introducing dignitaries and guests and, at the climax of the evening, relaying the torch around the arena and lighting the Flame of Hope.

For the first time in the 35-year history of the Special Olympics movement, the Opening Ceremony at Croke Park will be televised live by host broadcaster RTÉ. It marks one of the largest television productions ever undertaken in Ireland, with 21 cameras bringing pictures of the event to every town and village in Ireland and around the world. The Opening Ceremony of the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games is created and produced for television by Tyrone Productions.

The Riverdance contribution to this night will be a performance featuring the longest troupe line ever seen in an Irish dance show, over 100 dancers. The Choir and Drum Corps have also been increased to match the occasion. Leading the Riverdance troupe will be Joanne Doyle and Breándan de Gallaí. The closing ceremony on June 29th will honor the 30,000 volunteers who made it all possible.

Riverdance producers undertook a search for a young Irish female solo singer to perform Bill Whelan's haunting Cloudsong. The search began in January of this year, and after auditions in March, the numbers were whittled down to six. Bill Whelan attended the final auditions, and the panel was unanimous in its choice: Lynn Hilary -- see photo on right with John McColgan. A member of Anúna, she has performed with them in New York, Amsterdam, Morocco and elsewhere, and won the R&R Cup (Solo Singing) at the Feis Ceoil 2002.

Rehearsal at the Point Depot... where it all began!

The Celtic Cafe community is very excited not only about the fact that so many dancers will be taking part in the Opening Ceremony, but that so many of the original troupe have returned for this very special event! Click here for the very first website devoted to Riverdance, now archived here at the Celtic Cafe.

Can you imagine the emotions of the dancers? The rehearsals for the Irish dance event on June 21st are taking place at the Point Depot theater, where it all began in February of 1995!

The following are the names of the dancers performing at the Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies:

Dearbhail Bates, Orfhlaith Bates, Lorna Bradley, Martin Brennan, Abigail Browne, Rachel Byrne, Cathleen Callen, Nora Cannon, John Carey, Gemma Carney, Doireann Carney, Yzanne Cloonan, Isobel Cunningham, Andrea Curley, Maeve Donohoe, Niamh Eustace, Denise Flynn, Eddie Flynn, Fiona Harold, Patricia Henry, Kerry Hutchinson, Orla Keane, Aidan Kilcoyne, Dearbhla Lennon, Conor Maher, Gregory McMahon, Jonathan McMorrow, Clare McNelis, Yvonne McNelis, Cal Moran, Gerard Mulrey, Damian Murphy, Lorcan Murphy, Mairead Ni Bhriain, Richard Nicholl, Derval O'Brien, Amy O'Rourke, Colm O'Se, Damien Noone, Scott Porter, Ursula Quigley, Edel Quin, Joan Rafter, Geraldine Reidy, Paula Bell, Niamh Browne, Joanne Evans, Seamus Fearon, Sinead Greene, Brenda Daly (Jordan), Damian Kirk, Carla O'Brien, Aine Rooney, Conor Smith, Eithne Walls, Lynsey Wilkinson, Roisin Cahalan, Orla Clarke, Melissa Convery, Arlene Toal, Julie Regan, Dearbhla Fay, Jason McMorrow, Rachel Galligan, Susan Ginnety, Karen Halley, Siobhan Lambert, Dervla McGee, Cheryl Nolan, Niamh O'Connor, Jo-Ellen Forsyth, Anthony Ferguson, Karen Bolton, Breandan de Gallai, Joanne Doyle, Ciara Fenlon, Riona Ni Fhrighil, Zoe Heynes, Siobhan Gargan, Lisa Berry, Suzanne O'Sullivan, Fiona Hand, Ronan Slevin, Gearoid Keane, Sean Keane, Jacintha Sharpe, Jennifer Sharpe, Siobhan McSharry, Keith Brett, Kellie Keegan, Grace Lavelle, Yvonne Mahady, Lisa Loran, Taka Hayashi, Jennifer Healy, Claire McManus, Aoife Clarke, Andrew Nolan, David Bellwood, Linda Nurney.

Keep up with news of Riverdance's involvement in this amazing event via their Exclusives section at Riverdance.com over the coming days!

We at the Celtic Cafe send all our best wishes and the best of luck to the athletes and all the other participants -- enjoy the craic!

Feature: Bernadette Price
Original Web Design: Alexander Servas

Lynn Hilary and John McColgan
Joanne Doyle
Original Cast Members
© 2003 by CelticCafe.com