Gillian Harte and Ger O’Brien have been crowned winners of this year’s Bantry Strictly Come Dancing after a spectacular performance.
The atmosphere was electric at the grand final at the Westlodge Hotel on Sunday, March 18th, in aid of St Finbarr’s Boys National School.
The night kicked off with three couples performing in an outstanding dance off.
Mary Barry and Tommy Murray took to the floor first with a salsa, followed by Bernie O’ Mahony and Jason Griffin’s waltz.
Laura Power and Seanie O’Leary stepped it up a gear with a cha cha, which won them the judges’ vote to perform again for the title.
Presenters Richard Harrington and Gearoid O’Leary did an amazing job of hosting all three shows, their local knowledge and connections with each of the contestants made for very entertaining commentaries.
Mary Deane and Tommy Barry danced a dramatic tango, which had the audience in hysterics, followed by local business owners Edel McGovern and Alby Andrews who revved it up with a fast-moving jive to the famous Footloose tune. Bantry’s Shelly Connolly and Damien Hicks danced to the iconic Time of my Life from Dirty Dancing – even nailing the iconic lift – while Dee Wiseman and Gavin Cronin jived to Tina Turner’s Proud Mary. Husband and wife duo, Claire and Stephen Hayden finished off the first half with a cheeky Lindy Hop to Dear Future Husband.
Dance off winners Laura and Seanie started off the second half with electrifying enthusiasm. Majella McCarthy and Mark O’ Donovan danced a foxtrot to the theme tune from Beauty and The Beast. Next up with a Latin number were Stacey O’Sullivan and Stephen Coughlan. The first couple to score a 10 from judges Eilish and Colum, were Emilie Murphy and Paudie McSweeney while a Latin dance by Brid O’Leary and Diarmuid Sheedy set the floor on fire.
Judges for the final show were Aidan O’ Mahony, winner of RTE’s Dancing with the Stars 2017, who shared his own dance experience and knowledge with the contestants; C103 breakfast show presenter Colum McGrath and Eilish O’Carroll, aka ‘Winnie’ from Mrs Brown’s Boys, who said she was blown away by the standard.
Lily de La Cour and Ronan O’Mahony delivered a knockout performance with their jive to Olly Mur’s Dance With Me Tonight, which was full of lifts and tricks with Gillian and Ger dancing on the ceiling with their cha cha. Another 30 marks went to Maggie O’ Shea and Kieran Hourihan, who performed a rumba to Chasing Cars’ Snow Patrol.
That just left St Finbarr’s Boys’ National School principal Brian Gleeson and his dance partner Claire Hourihan to wrap up with an energetic cha cha, also scoring them 30 out of 30 from the judges.
Brian, originally from Killarney thanked the organisers, dancers and audience members for their support for the school, saying: ‘Bantry, you should be very proud, give yourself a round of an applause and a standing ovation, this event would not be possible without your support and community spirit.’
But the show didn’t stop there. The ladies wowed with a chair dance routine while the male dancers performed a hilarious version of YMCA
On behalf of the Parents’ Association, Christine Fitzgerald thanked all those who had supported the boys school and especially the 32 dancers for what she called the three months of relentless effort, sacrifice and dedication and for making the show the entertainment success it was.
‘Let’s not forget, the real winners here are the staff and pupils at St Finbarr’s Boys National School,’ she said.
‘This very successful fundraiser will go towards improving conditions in the school and in turn make it a better environment to teach in and to learn in,’ Christine added.