Gilleóghan Dancer & Instructor Wins “Most Dedicated” Man of the Year

Gilleóghan Dancer & Instructor Wins “Most Dedicated” Man of the Year

Editor’s note: Bethel resident Matt Mulvey is not your typical college student. Juggling school, work and already living on his own at the age of 21, this young dancer is focused and driven to reach his goals- no matter how big. He was recently bestowed with a huge honor, being named “Most Dedicated Man of the Year 2012” by The Irish Dancing Magazine

Here is his story in his own words–

In the year 2000, my parents won a set of tickets to Riverdance on Broadway where I was instantly fascinated by the rhythm produced by the dancers’ feet. The following Monday I can remember my heart dropping in the middle of our 3rd grade’s morning rosary prayer as the opening act of Riverdance began blasting from my Walk-Man inside my closet.

After recovering from the embarrassment of disturbing morning prayer, my parents had me signed up for classes with the Gray School of Irish Dance in Edmond Town Hall of Newtown, Connecticut. By the spring of our first year, I was ready for my first feis in Southbury, Connecticut. I still remember how nervous I was showing up to a high school full of girls and boys far talented than I was. An advanced student from my class reminded me before I went on “Remember, after 8 bars you start your step!” The judges must’ve been shocked that an overweight 10-year-old could lift his heels off the group and I ended up with a third and first place. I was hooked.

It was that following summer that I was introduced to my current mentor, Philip Owens. To this day I try to ease frustrated students with the story of how Philip beat trebles into me and despite some blood, sweat and tears, I grew to respect him with unsurpassed admiration.

Throughout the next few years (2003-2006) I went from the chunky boy in the advanced students mixed ceili team to a World Qualifier. My first year three years competing at the New England Oireachtas were  leaving me  discouraged that my hard work was not resulting in medals or placements. Finally, the 2005 Oireachtas in Stamford, Connecticut changed that rough entrance into the competitive dance world with a World Qualifying spot as 4th place Boys 14-15. I can remember waiting at the back of the hall preparing myself for disappointment when my number was called as a World Qualifier and the feeling of joy that ran through me as I weaved to the side of the stage.

In 2006, I placed 19th at the North American Nationals and followed a steady streak of 3rd and 4th place for the following years at my regional Oireachtas’. After unsuccessfully competing overseas in the 2007 and 2008 All Irelands and Oireachtas Rince Na Cruinne, my troubles with injuries came to a climax. What began with a proposed case of tendonitis began to drastically impair my dancing all together. Despite my injury, I qualified for the 2009 World Championships with my placement of 13th at the 2008 North American Nationals. I was determined to recall in the 2009 World Championships in Philadelphia but danced three out of the overall recall. The following week of the competition I was sitting in the waiting room of Danbury Hospital for what I thought would be the solution to my knee problems. I underwent major knee surgery and finished the dancing semester watching on the bench with my knee stapled and reconstructed.

Though unable to dance, I was presented with a generous scholarship from the Adeline Gray Memorial Fund for my “Commitment and Dedication to Irish Dancing”. After four years of consistent placements at the regional level, I was determined to bring on the new chapter of my life at the University of Delaware with the title of Regional Champion. Stubborn as I was, I jumped right back into training and by the Fall of 2009 I was following a consistent schedule of practicing on campus and catching a late Amtrak from Newark, Delaware to New York City where one of my parents would pick me up to bring me to dancing class the following morning. As challenging and expensive as that routine was, it paid off in November when I finally received the cup for the Mens 18-20 New England Regional Champion.

As my knee began to show signs of injury again, my judging conflict that forbade me from dancing in the 2010 Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne proved to be a sign that it was time for a change of heart. I took a year off of dancing and fully applied myself to my academic and social life at the University of Delaware, however I ended my sophomore year with something missing– dancing.

With the opening of my prior dancing instructors’ new dancing school, Gilleóghan Irish Dance, I immediately sought the opportunity of coming back to dancing. With my knee still holding a grueling problem for me, I sucked up the pain and managed to get myself back into shape to win the Senior Mens 2011 Regional Oireachtas Champion title. Along with the title came my realization that dancing would be the underlying factor in my future career.  I transferred from the University of Delaware to Western Connecticut State University, a 10-minute ride from the dancing studio and began assistant teaching with my instructors and mentors, Terry Gillan and Philip Owens.

Now I student-teach full-time with Gilleóghan Irish Dance and plan to pass my  T.C.R.G in time, graduating as a business major with the dream of running my own dancing studio one day.


Gilleóghan Irish Dance  is located at 170 Greenwood Ave., Bethel. Classes are held in Bethel and Danbury. For more information please call or email the studio at:  or 201.952.1679.


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Posted on November 9, 2012, in Home and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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