The John Flanagan Memorial Feis in Oxford is one of those stalwart events in the southern England calendar of Irish dancing that has grown year on year since 1999.
By John Egan
Not only is it a memorial feis named by its organiser, Marion Flanagan, in memory of her late father, but it is also run in aid of selected local charities for which it raises funds each year.
Dancers will know that Marion very reluctantly disbanded her dance school because of work and family commitments, but she continues to provide lessons in the Oxford area as a teacher in the McGahan Lees Academy.
The other good news is that she will continue her annual feis and its charitable fundraising. Once again this year’s chosen charity is Helen and Douglas House based in the Oxford area.
I learned that Helen House which was opened in 1982 was the world’s first children’s hospice.
This was followed with the opening of Douglas House in 2004 specifically for the care of young adults. Helen House provides medical, emotional and practical support, helping families deal with the implications of living with a child who will die prematurely, so they can make the most of their time together.
Douglas House provides a young person with the time to do the things they like to do with the support of their nursing and care team.
Generally the work of charities is praiseworthy and they don’t come more worthy than this.
As was the case last year this was another feis whose timetable was challenged by a considerable number of dancers who arrived unannounced on each day and who were prepared to pay an additional £5 to register on arrival rather than pre-entering.
This practise of ‘pay-on-the- day’ seems to be with us for good and is one that is being accepted as normal for future events.
But late finishes on each day at this feis were minimised by good organisational teamwork.
Dancers attended from all over the country but mainly from the southern region and from the midlands.
Marion told me that the feis was hugely successful in terms of the overall numbers of dancers and by the positive feedback of audience and dancers alike.
She attributed the excellent feedback to the good fortune of having an excellent team of helpers.