The word Oireachtas is the Gaelic word for championship. It is pronounced “O-rock-tas”. At Pender-Keady, dancers who attain a certain level of competitive success compete in the New England Regional Oireachtas, which takes place each year the weekend before Thanksgiving at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Regional Oireachtas is the qualifying event for dancers to compete in the World Championships. It is also an event that can qualify dancers to compete at the North American Irish Dancing Championships. In addition to being a qualifying event, the oireachtas is also a platform for many children to compete in team competitions as well as a non-qualifying solo event called Traditional Set.


The rules of the New England Region state that in order to dance in a solo championship at the oireachtas, a dancer must have all of their dances in the Prizewinner level at feisanna or higher, and must attain a 1st place in hard shoe and a 1st place in soft shoe in the Prizewinner level.

At Pender-Keady, we follow more stringent qualifying rules in order to dance in a solo championship at the oireachtas. We require that a dancer must have placed in a Preliminary championship at a feis within the year of that oireachtas (ie must place in prelim any time between January 1 of the current year and the impending oireachtas). This rule is being brought into effect at Pender-Keady as of Sept. 1st, 2012. Dancers who have already competed in solo in the past regardless of prelim championship placements are grandfathered in and may continue to dance solo.

Please note that exemptions are made for dancers in the Under 8 and the Under 9 age category. These dancers may be entered in solo dancing at the oireachtas based on teacher’s discretion and the decision of the teacher’s is final. These exemptions are in place because in many cases, many talented young dancers simply haven’t been dancing for long enough to attain the criteria necessary to compete but are still of the caliber to compete at this level. This is not a Pender-Keady rule, this is a regional rule that Pender-Keady chooses to follow.


Dancers at Pender-Keady begin to learn the traditional set called St. Patrick’s Day in the later part of the year when they are in the Novice class level. If they attend summer camp the summer following their Novice class year, they should in most cases become sure and competent in St. Patrick’s day and should be ready by November to compete in this competition. If they do not attend camp they will probably not be quite ready come November. This is the earliest class level where children are able to compete in Traditional Set. Beyond that, children can stay and compete in the Traditional Set competition at the oireachtas until they move into prelim and place in prelim within the calendar year of that oireachtas. So this competition is open to prelim dancers who have not placed in a feis since prior to January 1st of that year or have never placed in prelim at all. We encourage all of our dancers who fall within this category to participate in the Traditional Set competition as there is a higher likelihood of success than there would be in the solo championship.


Dancers are not qualified to participate in team dancing at the oireachtas until they have completed their Novice class level AND have attended summer camp for at least 2 year. Team dancing is taught initially in summer camp so dancers who do not attend over the summer do not learn the required dances. Once dancers have finished Novice class level and attended 2 years of camp, it is then up to teachers discretion as to whether they are ready to take part in teams or not. Some children need a little more time to be fully ready and putting a child in a team who is not ready for it is never a fun experience! Exceptions to the requirements can be made at teacher’s discretion when dealing with very young children or extenuating circumstances.


Oireachtas 2016 - Team Practice Day Schedule

Tuesday August 30
Wednesday August 31
Saturday September 10
Sunday September 18
Saturday September 24
Saturday October 1
Saturday October 8
Saturday October 15th
Sunday October 23
Sunday October 30
Saturday November 5
Saturday November 12- Dress rehearsal or practice day
Sunday November 13 - dress rehearsal or practice day