Prelude to St. Patrick’s Day at the Irish Hooley


Did you know that you can see Irish Dancers in Des Moines – without paying the high cost of seats for Riverdance or waiting for St. Patrick’s Day? The Hooley is our kick-off to the very busy month of March – obviously an Irish dancer’s (and her mom’s!) busiest time of the year!

Irish dancers perform solos at the Irish Dance Hooley in Des Moines
Irish dancers perform solos at the Irish Dance Hooley in Des Moines

Every year, at the end of February, the Foy School of Irish Dance in Des Moines presents a Hooley. Traditionally, a Hooley was the crux of Irish social life. An evening filled with music, dance, song and merriment.

The dancers at the Hooley range from very first year dancers, still unsure of their steps but so adorable in their school dresses, to the most advanced dancers in their sparkling solo dresses and bouncing wigs.

The Hooley is a fun family event – especially on a cold February day!

General Information

Saturday, February 22
Saydel High School, 5601 NE 7th St, Des Moines (easy to get to, just off I-35/80)
3:00 p.m. Show
7:00 p.m. Show


$10.00 adults
$5.00 child/student (if they need a seat, they need a ticket)
Ticket reservations are not necessary, but are preferred (we have sold out performances in the past)
To reserve tickets (will call) or for more info, contact: [email protected] or click the following link to use the ticket reservation form:

Irish Dancer Q&A

As the mom of two Irish dancers, I am asked a lot of questions. These are the questions I hear most.

Irish dancer“Is that her real hair?”

Nope, it’s a wig. Irish dance has a lot of bounce, and judges will watch the bounce of the hair, as well as the feet, to check a dancer’s timing.

“Where is the sparkly dress?”

Dancers are not automatically given a sparkling dress, which is called a ‘Solo Dress.’ These dresses, which can cost a few hundred dollars to $1500 (or more), can only be earned by competing at a Feis or Feile. Dancers must earn a first or second place in each dance they compete in to be able to wear the solo dress – but they can only be worn in the dance they have been earned in. So it’s not uncommon for dancers to carry two dresses with them in their first few years of competition.

“Why don’t you move your arms?”

There are a few theories about this including dancing being outlawed during the British occupation, the Church discouraging inappropriate touching, and the dance masters refining and formalizing their art. I, personally, tend toward the final theory – there wasn’t much room! Dancing was a casual pastime which often took place in private homes and small bars. There just wasn’t a lot of space for flailing arms!

Do you have more Irish dance questions? Leave them in the comments – or better yet, come join us at the Hooley! We’ll be there all day! (And if you come during the 7 p.m. show, you’ll find me behind the bake sale booth, selling tasty treats as a fundraiser!)

Join us and support Irish dance and culture in Des Moines!


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Writer and photographer of captivating travel escapades, family foibles and objective critiques. Well, that's what it says on my business card.... It's difficult to sum up a work-at-home mom in so few words. I am a homeschooling mom to my two daughters, Brenna and Caelan, wife to a very hard working husband, Doug, freelance writer, social media educator, public speaker, and unrepentant travel junkie. I'm living the dream in Iowa, and dreaming of living in Ireland. Sharing Our Ireland travel tales at Ireland with Kids.


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