Civic reception for World Champ on home turf

September 30, 2013

By Christine Keighery

World Line Dance Champion Shane McKeever is to receive a hero’s welcome this week in a special homecoming event in Crossmaglen’s Square.

Newry and Mourne District Council, in conjunction with Crossmaglen Community Association, St.Oliver Plunkett Youth Club, Crossmaglen Rangers and South Armagh Halloween Group are hosting the civic reception on Wednesday evening to celebrate Shane’s tremendous achievement scooping gold in the Line Dancing category of the first ever World Dance Sport Games in China.

His world class accolade is especially significant as the WorldDanceSport Games in Kaohsiung is the first competition of its kind where dance has officially been represented as a sport.

Mayor of Newry and Mourne District Council, Councillor Michael Ruane paid tribute to the dedicated dancer who is renowned throughout the area for his extraordinary talent.

“I am delighted the Council are hosting a welcome home for Shane. The people of Newry and Mourne and in particular, south Armagh are very proud of Shane’s achievement. This achievement has not only raised the profile of dance in Ireland but on the World Stage.”

Speaking to The Examiner ahead of the upcoming reception, Shane told us he is honoured to have such a reception from his home town.

“To have the people of the town come out and support you is something special and means a lot to me” said Shane.

“It was an amazing experience to represent Ireland and I’m proud to be bringing an Olympic gold medal back to Crossmaglen. I would like to thank my family for all they have done since I started competing at 5 and now it’s taken me to Taiwan!”

Keen to acknowledge all the help and encouragement he has received over the years, Shane also extended his gratitude to Ann Cunningham, the owner of Dance Academy in Newry, who judges line dancing competitions all over the world. He credits Ann, who travelled to China with Shane as Ireland’s Coach, with setting up the Irish organisation and “giving us all the opportunity to represent Ireland in the games.”

The World champion also had high praise for Annemarie Morgan and Jenny Stephenson who, he said, have made him the dancer he is today.

“Without them I would not be taking this medal home today,” he said.

Annemarie is the owner of Morgan Dance and Theatre Arts in Newry, where Shane was a student for many years learning tap, ballet and modern dancing – all of which he now incorporates into his line dancing routines. He considers Annemarie to be one of the best dance teachers and choreographers in the UK and is thrilled to now teach in Morgan Dance and Theatre Arts alongside his revered teacher.

Crossmaglen Councillor Terry Hearty, the main organiser of Wednesday’s homecoming celebration said he was delighted to be involved in the setting up of the reception, where “the success of a true ambassador of Crossmaglen could be publicly honoured and celebrated.”

“We are delighted to be hosting such a reception for Shane” enthused Mr Hearty.

“He fully deserves such an event in his honour after achieving such a prestigious world title.  Everyone involved is more than delighted to be part of this celebration, having come across Shane throughout the years during his many dance competitions and performances.

“Shane has sung the praises of his native Crossmaglen during his many TV and radio interviews since his win so we are so proud to give him the recognition he deserves for such an amazing achievement.”

Everyone is welcome to the Square, Crossmaglen, this Wednesday 2 October at 7.00 pm, where an exciting line up of entertainment has been organised. As well as a special appearance by Big Tom, the local Comhaltas group, the evening will be compered by Kevin McAllister of Q Radio.

This special homecoming event promises to be a great family night not to be missed with lots of spot prizes and goody bags for all the children.