A number of years ago four Donegal girls danced their way around the world with the now world famous Riverdance and have created a lasting legacy in Irish Dancing in Donegal.
The McNelils sisters Paula, Claire and Yvonne along with Isobel Cunningham were all part of the Riverdance troupe - a group of dancers that captured the hearts and minds of the world after their Eurovision performance alongside Ballyshannon’s Charlie McGettigan.
The girls are still very active on their feet but went on to establish the McNelis Cunningham Dance Studio an academy which has won the praise of Riverdance founders Moya Doherty and John McColgan.
The ever expanding studio has students now throughout the county and with the expert help of Riverdancers Shaun Kelly and Deirdre O’Reilly are producing champion after champion.
Just last weekend young Ellie Campbell from Donegal Town clinched the North American Dancing title in a competition which included over 300 dancers from every part of the globe.
Paula McNelis Monaghan said, “This has really been a World Championship title for Ellie - at the underage level there is no official world title - US title is the big one and Ellie has taken it - we are just so proud of her - her dedication, will to succeed and her smiling face.
“It has been a great few years for the studio, Gerard Byrne has clinched the world title twice, Ruth McKenna from Donegal has started her first season with Riverdance in the Gaiety and Mide Ní Bhaoil is now the lead lady in Lord of the Dance.
“For fellas it was once regarded as ‘being a sissy’ if you were a dancer, now they are lining up. Gerard Byrne will tell you it has greatly improved his skills on the football field with much better footwork. I would say we are going to have a lot more world champions coming out of Donegal.”
Ellie is the daughter of John and Anne Marie Campbell from Golf Course Rd. In Donegal Town.