Dance: Jo McNamara in Clare


How It’s New York: We have loved Jo McNamara in NYC for years; she’s a regular at the Irish Arts Center (though the paper keeps spelling it Centre!) especially at Mick Moloney’s wonderful concerts.

How It’s Irish: Jo is originally from Irish, and this article is in The Clare Champion. She’s moved back home now. Thanks to Daniel Neely for pointing this out to us.

Jo reflects on a life of twists and turns

Written by Peter O’Connell   
JO McNamara doesn’t refer to her walking stick by name. She cannot bring herself to mention it but neither can she avoid pointing towards it. It has to be noted that Jo, who now lives in Moyasta with her son Alan, is 96-years-old.

Jo McNamara reminisces at her home in Moyasta. Photograph by Declan MonaghanThere are plenty of people 20 years younger than Jo who need the aid of a walking implement to guide them. Jo earned a living performing and teaching dance in Ireland, London and New York and was always fully mobile. That’s probably why her slightly restricted mobility is difficult to accept.

“I could have kept dancing on and on but almost two years ago, I was getting my passport renewed in New York after doing a show with Mick Moloney. I walked up the big white steps, I turned around quickly, missed the first step and ended up a week in the hospital,” 

Jo told The Clare Champion in Moyasta recently.

A teacher at the Irish Arts Centre in New York at the time, Jo was on the missing list from work for a while.
“They were looking for me all the time. They couldn’t find out what became of me. One of the doctors said when I was leaving, ‘you’re going to need this for a while’. But I thought it would only be for a little while,” she lamented, again referring to the walking stick.
Jo taught dancing at the Irish Arts Centre for 30 years and performed in all parts of New York, including Harlem.

“I taught everything from Irish step, tap, old-time waltzes and even tango. I taught a bit of everything. I don’t regret the life it was,” Jo reflected.

Read the rest here!

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.