For generations, traditional Irish dance was passed down generation to generation from teacher to student with some steps written down, but most committed to memory.
Now, thanks to the Internet — special shout-out to YouTube — Irish dance reaches all ends of the earth with a few simple clicks.
With every year that passes, Irish dance makes its mark in a new way on the web. In recent years, flashmobs and dance fusion projects have dominated YouTube results when searching the simple phrase “Irish dance.” This year, search results proved that “Britain’s Got Talent,” “Lord of the Dance” weddings and tapping priests reigned supreme in my annual list of top Irish dance videos.
Without further ado, here’s my* list of 2014’s top Irish dance videos:
10. Kicking off (HA. SO MUCH PUN INTENDED) this year’s list is the multitalented — even that doesn’t do him justice — world-class dancer and 2014 GAA All-Ireland Minor Football Medalist Tomás Ó Sé.
9. For the love of gawd and your own sanity, fast forward to the 8-minute mark.
8. Discover Ireland has made a bit of a name for itself with Irish dance flash mobs. This one, shot in Vienna, Austria, drummed up enough interest to earn a spot on the top-10 list, but it’s a far cry from the original mass Irish dancer sneak attack that claimed the No. 1 spot on my 2011 list.
7. Sadly, Americans couldn’t watch RTE’s “Jigs and Wigs” on TV. Lucky for us, one YouTuber posted the entire series online (WATCH IT HERE). The first episode, “My Big Fat Irish Dance Dress,” which delves into the world of Irish dance among Ireland’s traveller community, falls snuggly at No. 7 on the list with more than 131,000 views.
6. It’s not the last time you’ll see “Britain’s Got Talent” on this list — this is just the beginning. Oliver Moroney gave his all with a traditional broom (or “brush”) dance, but it wasn’t enough to get through to the judges.
5. Hasn’t this “Sesame Street” clip been out for years now? I feel like I’ve seen it a bunch of times, but it’s listed on YouTube as having been posted this past St. Patrick’s Day. For having only been online 10 months, it’s made quite a splash with more than 276,000 views.
4. This “Riverdance” remake was recorded at the 2014 North Texas Irish Festival. The Maguire Academy Irish dancers’ video was viewed on YouTube more than 330,000 times.
3. Irish dance weddings were hot in 2014. As many Irish dancers have come to realize, a wedding is the perfect opportunity to throw on the jig shoes or ghillies to honor the dancing bride and/or groom. I know I’ve personally danced a few jigs and reels at two weddings this past summer. You can only imagine what happens when the dance floor is graced by professional Irish dancers — members of “Lord of the Dance,” speficially.
The video below, featuring all male dancers, has been viewed on YouTube more than 800,000 times:
Not to be outdone by the men above, these lords and ladies of the dance made a splash on Facebook. The video below, posted Aug. 3, 2014, has been shared more than 10,000 times. There’s no way of knowing how many times it’s been viewed, unfortunately, but it earned an honorary spot on this list because it’s utterly amazing:
2. Pope Francis is doing his part to make Catholicism hip, but don’t count out the cool contribution from these two smooth priests with lightning fast moves.
Dancing seminarians David Rider (tap dancer), of New York, and John Gibson (Irish dancer), of Milwaukee, busted moves and battled it out before an audience outside the Vatican.
1. The Innova Irish dancers, without a doubt, owned the internet for Irish dancing in 2014. The “Britain’s Got Talent” beauties charmed the reality talent show judges with fancy feet tapping to a modern beat. With nearly 3 million views, the video below demolished any competition from other Irish dancers.
A second “BGT” video (scroll down a little more) featuring these festival-style dancers was watched more than a million times, technically earning it the No. 3 spot on this list. But, for the sake of fitting in more videos, the Innova dancers will have to settle for just first place.
* Many highly viewed videos are published online without permission or contain material that is duplicated from other accounts. I tried to take into account video views from verified sources. In addition, I included only those videos that feature actual Irish dancing, as opposed to parody dancing or very little dancing at all.