Deirdra Kiely was born and raised in Ireland.
She’s now in Milwaukee teaching at the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance!
What was her journey to America like?
Kiely sat down with WTMJ’s Libby Collins on this week’s episode of WTMJ Conversations.
Listen in the player above.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: Dierdra, how did you end up in the U.S. and, of all places, Wisconsin?
DIERDRA KIELY: Yeah, well, funny that I did not go home. I stuck things out in Qatar. I, you know, like everybody, thought it was going to be a couple weeks and things would be back — back to normal again, and — but stuck it out and went on Zoom like every other dance girl, made sure my dancers still got the lessons that they needed, the lessons they wanted. They really, really, like, you know, they wanted the lessons and said they needed something, the parents said they needed something, you know, to get them through apart from their schoolwork. And I did, I stayed there, I stuck out the pandemic, and I got another job in a school as a special needs and support teacher, so I was doing both for some time. And then one morning I woke up to a message from Mark Howard, and my friend in Ireland who had given my name to him as somebody —
LIBBY COLLINS: Let’s say who Mark Howard is.
DIERDRA KIELY: Mark Howard is the founder of Trinity.
LIBBY COLLINS: Trinity Dance School.
DIERDRA KIELY: Trinity Academy of Irish Dance and the founder of Trinity Irish Dance Company.
So, I — it was just a very general text message.
LIBBY COLLINS: And he’s well known throughout the world.
DIERDRA KIELY: Yeah, I mean, I knew of Trinity. Trinity, en masse all around the world, everybody knows who Trinity is and who Mark Howard is.
And I was like, oh, my goodness, like, okay. And it was a general message, “Hi, I would love to talk to you and let me know when it’s a good time to ring.” And I’m getting up for work at 5:00 a.m. in Qatar and, I’m like, what? And I said, “Okay, you can ring me right now.” And he was like, “How would you feel about coming to teach with Trinity?” And I was like, “Really, are you serious?” I got excited instantly.
So, as you can recall from our earlier conversation, when I got asked to go to Qatar, I was like, “Where’s Qatar?” I don’t know.
Something excited me about this. As soon as he asked me, I was like, I think this is what I want to do. But, again, I, you know, took my time and thought everything through, and didn’t want the dancers to be without in Qatar, so I had to think about that, too. But I did, obviously, give him my answer, and I’m here and I couldn’t be happier.
LIBBY COLLINS: Let’s talk a little bit about Trinity.
DIERDRA KIELY: Yes.
LIBBY COLLINS: As you said, it’s known around the world.
DIERDRA KIELY: It really is.
LIBBY COLLINS: Established in Chicago, what, in the late ’80s?
DIERDRA KIELY: Yes, so we’re actually celebrating the 40th year anniversary this year. So, it has been around for 40 years, started in Chicago, but I think in a short number of years moved to
Milwaukee and is established in Milwaukee also. So, we have locations in Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago.
And, yeah, I mean, I would have known of Trinity, I would have heard of their world championship — world champion figures and there were champion ceilis and admired so many of their soloists as well throughout the competitive days.
So, I also seen them at Irishfest when I was here a number of years ago, I made it my business, me and my dance teacher, and we’re like, we have to go see Trinity, and I just remember seeing —
LIBBY COLLINS: And you had to come to Milwaukee Irishfest.
DIERDRA KIELY: I came to Milwaukee Irishfest, and, yeah, I just remember being, like, blown away, watching them on stage. Because I just thought — there was everybody on that stage from the youngest to the oldest, from the newest to the more experienced. And I was like, it just — I can still — I can still see it in my head even though it was some time ago.