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Keepers of the Steps Oireachtas Pop-up Exhibit

November 20, 2022 @ 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Keepers of the Steps Oireachtas Pop-up Exhibit
FRI, November 18, 2022 from 9 am – 4 pm
SAT, November 19, 2022 from 9 am – 4 pm
SUN, November 20, 2022 from 9 am – 3 pm

Located just outside the competition rooms at the Western Regional Oireachtas at the Marriott Marquis located at 780 Mission Street, SF

Admission to the exhibit is free.

Keepers of the Steps is a special collection maintained and organized by the United Irish Cultural Center of San Francisco that celebrates the origins of Irish step dancing in the San Francisco Bay Area dating back to the 1850s and the Gold Rush Era. The San Francisco Bay Area is the birthplace of the Western Region and as such hosted the first Western Region Oireachtas in the 1970s.

Through this mini pop-up style exhibit, guests are invited to explore 150 years of Irish Dance in the San Francisco Bay Area and celebrate the roots, rhythms, and rituals of one of the most enduring traditions of our Irish heritage. Our special collection was first put on display for a one month exhibition in the St. Francis Room at the UICC during January 2022, and the committee is delighted to be sharing these stories once again.

VIEW PHOTOS of our Exhibit from earlier this year here.

There most certainly was green among the gold in the hills of California in the mid-1800s. The prospect of striking it rich during the Gold Rush lured droves of people to the west coast of a young nation—including the Irish! With their hopes of fortune, they brought their culture too. The centuries-old oral traditions of Irish music and dance made their way to California and took root in growing communities.

Irish dancing is a centuries-old tradition that continues to capture the hearts of dancers and onlookers alike. Long before gold was found in the hills of California—a couple of centuries to be precise—the Dancing Masters of Ireland were promoting the rich tradition of Irish Dance by traveling around Ireland, teaching their steps, and sharing their stories. This critical piece of our Irish heritage and history has evolved over the years into local dance schools in various regions around Ireland—and eventually around the world. Casual dance-offs or competitions at the crossroads of Ireland in the days of yore gave way to feiseanna (Irish dance competitions). The entertainment industry has broadened the reach of the art form through massive stage shows like Riverdance and Lord of the Dance as well as through film and music.

Our special exhibit aims to explore the people, places, and things that have sustained Irish dancing in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are ever grateful to the modern Dancing Masters who brought Irish Dancing to San Francisco and the Bay Area more than 150 years ago and created a rich legacy that thrives today through dance classes, competition, and cultural opportunities. To all the dancers who share in the joy of Irish Dancing, know that you are part of a long and storied tradition. And not unlike those Dancing Masters in 16th century Ireland you, along with your dance teacher, are the “Keepers of the Steps.”


November 20, 2022
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
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Marriott Marquis
780 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103 United States
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