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Strictly Bantry 2019 launched at Westlodge

February 24th, 2019 7:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

The main organisers Bridget Keane, Sandra O'Shea, Brian Gleeson, St Finbarr's Boys' NS principal; Pat Gill, Westlodge Hotel, main sponsor; Sandra Maybury, PLANtastic Events, and Elaine Courtney. (Photo: Tony O'Donovan, Moments in Time)

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ON Friday night week last, the launch of the second Strictly Come Dancing Bantry took place at the Westlodge Hotel.  

The launch was a night of celebration and fun, as the 22 dancers taking part were revealed and the 11 dance pairs were announced. Following a short interview with each of the couples, the dancers performed a sensational group routine that received a standing ovation.  

News spread throughout West Cork and dancers this year are not only from Bantry, but also people from Caheragh, Boherbue, Glengarriff, Castletownbere, Schull, Kealkil, Drimoleague and Dunmanway have got involved in this event.

Strictly Come Dancing Bantry 2018 was part of a tremendous year of fundraising in Bantry, raising over €36,000 for St Finbarr’s Boys’ National School. These funds which were greatly appreciated by the school staff, board of management, parents’ association and pupils, have helped to improve conditions at the school, with the full exterior of the school now freshly painted, classrooms with new carpets, as well as sport, art and musical equipment purchased.   

Brian Gleeson, principal of St Finbarr’s, thanked all those who have made it possible to, not only run one successful Strictly Come Dancing event, but now, for a second year running, 11 couples have committed to train and rehearse to entertain audiences in Bantry.  Brian said: ‘I was genuinely blown away by the success of last year’s Strictly. The support we received was outstanding and the generosity of the community of Bantry was amazing.  

‘Since last year, so many people asked if we would do Strictly again and I wondered if we could ever top last year’s show. But the gang we have signed up to dance this year are just fantastic, their energy and enthusiasm is unreal. I’m so grateful to each and every one involved.’ 

He also thanked the organising committee who are headed up by event co-ordinator Sandra Maybury of PLANtastic Events, as well as all the local businesses who have pledged their support for the school.

The principal was also master of ceremonies for the launch night and it was agreed that he was a natural at it. His Kerry humour had the crowd in stitches.  Many of the dancers from last year’s shows were also at the launch night to cheer on and offer support for the new recruits.  

Brian finished by thanking the Westlodge Hotel for their extremely generous support in coming on board as main sponsors for this event. Pat Gill, general manager of the hotel, said: ‘We are delighted to partner with St Finbarr’s Boys’ School to sponsor their fundraiser. Last year was a tremendous event, spanning over three nights and we know this year will be another feast of entertainment.‘We look forward to hosting Strictly Bantry 2019 at the Westlodge Hotel,’ he added.  

This year’s group of performers promises to dazzle on the dance floor as they are already following a demanding training schedule under the guidance of choreographers Theresa O’Donoghue and Josie McAuliffe, as they prepare for the performance of a lifetime, which will include spectacular group routines as well as sensational couples’ dances.  

Theresa said: ‘This years’ group are phenomenal, nothing is too much for them and after just a few weeks, it is incredible how much they have learned and improved.’  Josie added: ‘2019 Strictly is a show not to be missed and every dancer is a winner in their own way. They are an amazing group to work with.’The ballroom battles kick off at the Westlodge Hotel, Bantry, with a semi-final taking place on Saturday, March 9th, followed by the grand final on Saturday 16th when couples will dance their socks off in a bid to be crowned Strictly Come Dancing Bantry winners for 2019.  

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