Irish dancer who sought to spread art to Protestants

Patricia Mulholland
Patricia Mulholland

A plaque is set to be unveiled today to a woman who sought to spread her own brand of Irish dancing to all in Northern Ireland.

Patricia Mulholland was born and grew up in north Belfast, and devised a form of what the Ulster History Circle termed “folk-ballet”, which she hoped would appeal to those of Protestant heritage as well as Catholics.

She died in 1992, and now the circle is set to honour her by erecting a blue sign at Brookvale Drive in the city, where she had also been based.

The unveiling at 11.15am on Friday is expected to see dancers from across the island of Ireland travel to the spot, just between the Cliftonville Road and the Waterworks.

The circle characterises her as “one of Ireland’s most talented choreographers, performers and teachers of Irish dance.”

The circle’s chairman Chris Spurr said: “We’re delighted to commemorate her achievements with this blue plaque, in the year of the centenary of Patricia Mulholland’s birth in 1915, and the Circle’s contribution to International Women’s Day (which falls on Sunday, March 8).

The circle quotes Ciaran Hinds, one her students, as saying that “she was adamant that Irish dancing was not pure Catholic, Gaelic culture – it was for people from this island who would dance together and weave patterns together”.

The plaque will be unveiled by the city’s SDLP Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon.