MILWAUKEE FEIS SOCIETY
As we celebrate our 32nd annual feis, we have proudly become the first and longest running feis in Wisconsin. It was suggested by Mr. Dennis Dennehy ADCRG that a Feis be brought to the Milwaukee area. Our collaborative effort began with a visit to the Trinity parents by Mr. William Starr, a parent of a Cashel Dennehy student. Mr. Starr suggested that the Feis be considered and implemented by Cashel Dennehy and Trinity. This meeting was held in 1989, and we hoped to have our local feis in place by the next year. Mr. Dennehy was vital in helping us start this Feis and we appreciate his encouragement and support.
Our first feis was located at the Carroll College campus in Waukesha, and we happily welcomed 400 competitors. After enjoying this facility for the next 2 years, we moved to the Student Union at Marquette University to accommodate our growing numbers and to introduce our local and out of town guests to our Milwaukee campus. We had hoped to make this an annual occurrence at Marquette, but once again we happily found ourselves with numbers growing, and the need for a larger facility.
We moved to the campus of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, where we found there was space for all our activities and another great environment for everyone. Unfortunately, a scheduling conflict by the University made it necessary to find another facility for our growing and popular activity. We then found that the Four Points Sheraton Hotel provided the space and the rooms, allowing us to continue. After a few years, another scheduling conflict found us back at UWM, and we are hopeful this will continue for some time.
Since 2000, we have added the newer dance schools to our area, and as co-sponsors of our feis. We are unique in having this sort of community effort to promote our cultural art form.
The most rewarding aspect of our feis has been the opportunity to provide a local feis as we had hoped, and for it to continue. We have also funded scholarships for any local musician wanting to become a feis musician to take classes at the Milwaukee Irish Fest Summer School. These musicians have been taught by master musician Tony Nother of Canada. We also fund a fee for Milwaukee students to take their TCRG tests, and have seen many local students become certified as teachers of Irish dance. Our feis has provided the stages for the new local feiseanna, and the storage facility for the stages and equipment. We are happy to help support others in the Milwaukee Irish community.
This feis speaks volumes for the camaraderie of the original board members, as several are still involved in the feis, and are the parents of local TCRG’s or teachers as well as many of us becoming grandparents with another generation exposed to this special art form.
Julie Smith, President
The Milwaukee Feis is a unique event at which all of the Milwaukee Irish dance schools joined together with a common goal – working together to ensure a successful competition and experience for all. This year’s honorees are the late Dennis Dennehy and his wife Marge Dennehy. Dennis, who resided on the South side of Chicago, had been making the drive north to teach in Milwaukee for over 5 years at the time. With no type of competition in Milwaukee, he suggested to Bill Starr, a parent in Cashel Dennehy at the time, that it would be a good idea to bring a feis to Milwaukee. With the patience to answer a thousand questions, bring ideas of working together for the common good to fruition, they persevered, and the city gave birth to the Milwaukee Feis. Dennis and Marge Dennehy are not only legendary dance teachers, but influential in so many ways. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping the Milwaukee Feis get off the ground!