IRISH dancing is more popular in Australia than ever, the Irish Dancing Commission of Ireland vice-president says.
Doctor John Cullinane is travelling through Victoria for two weeks holding examinations with Australian Irish dancing pioneer Geraldine O’Shea-Ryan.
Ms O’Shea-Ryan runs dance schools all through Victoria, including Bendigo.
Dr Cullinane oversaw the examinations of about 40 of her students at Bendigo's Victorian Railway Institute Hall on Wednesday.
Dr Cullinane, from Cork, has travelled all over the world with the commission and written several books on the history of Irish dancing.
He said world famous stage shows Riverdance and Lord of the Dance had instigated the resurgence in Irish dancing, and its popularity continued to rise.
“It is more popular than ever before,” Dr Cullinane said.
“Before it was a way to learn and maintain Irish culture, whereas now it has transcended that.
“It’s the dance form which attracts people.
“It’s become huge all over the whole world.”
Dr Cullinane has recently travelled across the world with Bendigo among the long list of destinations.
He said he had travelled to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Russia, South Africa, Japan and China on commission duties.
“Originally it was only people with Irish origins dancing, but now I examine people who wouldn’t even know where Ireland was,” he laughed.
Dr Cullinane said it was a pleasure to be travelling with Ms O’Shea-Ryan.
He said the groundbreaking Irish dancer featured prominently in one of his history books.
“She was the first Australian to be qualified by the Irish Dancing Commission of Ireland,” he said.
“She sailed on a ship to Ireland to find out about Irish dancing and started schools in Australia 1947.
“She is a real pioneer of Irish dancing in Australia.”