'Riverdance lifted Irish culture worldwide'

Fond memories for Roisín and Nicky

Maria PEPPER

WEXFORD couple Nicky Bailey and Roisin Dempsey have both enjoyed the extraordinary experience of touring with Riverdance – but not together.

The pair got married in 2001 but they are not among Riverdanceís amazing marriage statistic of 35 couples who met through the show and subsequently got married.

Roisin, a singer from Enniscorthy and Nicky, a percussionist from Wexford town actually met in 1999 while touring with Fr. Liam Lawton and got married in 2001.

Before they were wed, Nicky was the understudy for the Riverdance percussionist and was called in whenever a replacement was needed.

So, when Roisin became a singer with the globe-trotting show, she was looking forward to them touring together but it never happened because he didn't get any more work after she joined.

Roisin, a music teacher in Gorey Community School, did an Asian tour with Riverdance, travelling to Singapore, Hong Kong and all over Japan. She also participated in part of a European tour, taking in Belgium, Paris and Dublin. Her last appearance with the Riverdance cast was at the spectacular opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in Dublin. The pair both look back with fondness on their time in Riverdance and are still in touch with friends they made in the show. The contacts they made have helped them both enormously in their careers, especially Nicky who is now enjoying success with Celtic Woman, the show that has more or less replaced Riverdance in America. Roisin also tours with Celtic Woman during the holidays and has a solo singing career.

'I think Riverdance really lifted Irish culture all over the world. Celtic Woman follows the same theatre pattern and everywhere I've been since, people remember the name,' she said.

'Nicky made very good contacts through the show. It opened him up to other musicians who have used him. Because Celtic Woman is on television in America, he has got brilliant endorsement deals. A lot of the drum companies want to endorse him and supply him with drum equipment,' said Roisin who is currently in the U.S. with her husband.

Many of those involved in Celtic Woman are former Riverdance troopers including the composer David Downes who played piano with the musical phenomenon. According to Roisin, Celtic Woman is now enjoying the same kind of success that Riverdance experienced in the U.S.

'It has never been marketed in Ireland so people donít know much about it but it plays to audiences of 5,000 to 7,000 a night.'

After the current American tour, Nicky has another U.S. trek to complete before travelling to Australia and possibly Japan. Roisin hopes to join him during the summer holidays. 'Hopefully, I'll get the audition,' she said.

'Riverdance' first appeared as a sevenminute interval in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest at the Point Depot (now Dublin's O2). Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan won for Ireland with 'Rock N Roll Kids' but it was this short interval act which made the 1994 Eurovision the most commercially successful ever.

Bill Whelan, who wrote the original Riverdance score for Eurovision '94, also composed 'Timedance'-an early version of 'Riverdance' - performed by Planxty at the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest.

Riverdance entered the Irish singles chart at number one on May 5, 1994, and remained there throughout the summer, eventually totalling a record 18 weeks at No. 1. It is the second best-selling single of all time in Ireland – after Elton John's 'Candle In The Wind 97' for Princess Diana.

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