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By George O’Brien

Jim Daugherty is a familiar face to computer students as the Director of the Innovation Center. But few students realize that in his other life, Jim is an Irish step dancer. He will perform at the Arizona Irish Festival on Saturday, October 12th at Hance Park and the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix. The festival starts at 10:00 AM and runs until 6:00 P.M. Admission is $8 for adults with children under 13 free. Information is at www.azirish.com

Most Americans first learned about Irish dancing through the sensational group Riverdance. Since then, the number of people involved in Irish dancing has simply exploded along with a greater appreciation of Irish music. The Arizona Irish Festival will feature performances by three of the local Irish dance schools, including the McElligott School where Jim Daugherty takes classes along with his wife Anne. They have won medals in dance competitions.

The Arizona Irish Festival is an extravaganza of Irish music, dance, crafts, and culture including presentation of an exact copy of the famed Book of Kells. There will be musical performances by Afan, Pat McCrossan, Seanachie, the Hooligans, the McMorrows, and The Clare Voyants. There will be beginner workshops in Irish dance and how to play Irish music. The money raised will be used to help finance the activities of the Irish Cultural Center as well as to contribute to the fund for fallen firefighters.

In addition to his role as a dancer, Jim Daugherty is the coordinator of dance school at the Irish Cultural Center. The school features step dancing and ceili (social) dancing as well as instructional classes for fiddle, Irish whistle, flute, guitar, banjo, bodhran (the Irish drum). Registration for the classes is at www.azirish.com/Page%20Academy.htm or call 602-819-6400.