Keepers of the Steps


Keepers of the Steps is a special cultural program of the United Irish Cultural Center of San Francisco that manages, curates, and promotes local Irish step dance history and stories, memorabilia, and ephemera. Committed to exploring the history of Irish step dance in the San Francisco Bay Area dating as far back as the Gold Rush in the 1850s, the collection celebrates the roots, rhythms, and rituals of one of the most enduring traditions of our Irish heritage.


What started as a grass-roots cultural programming plan conceived of by Anne Cassidy Carew to create an historical exhibition has grown into important documentary and preservation work. According to program director Eileen Mize, herself a proud alumnus of the area’s McBride School of Irish Dance, there is a sense of urgency in collecting stories. “Since Irish step dancing is largely an oral tradition passed on from one generation to the next, it is critical to capture these stories from first-hand sources while these individuals are still able to share. In addition, we want people to know that the UICC is a repository for the old pieces of dance related ephemera that may be collecting dust in the back of the garage—not just the dresses, but the feis programs and news clippings, medals and brooches—these objects illustrate these stories and serve as real glimpses into days gone by—we are connected by these shared experiences.”

Founding Committee Members

Committee Chair Eileen Mize; Anne Cassidy Carew; Noreen Boyle, TCRG; Ann Baglin;
Jennifer Drennan (Dowling Library, Librarian); Kathleen Martin McKeon; and Jamie O’Keefe

Donate Items

For those of you with an old Irish dance costume (of ANY vintage, in nearly ANY condition) lurking in the back of your closet, you can donate your dress for our collection. We would take “pieces” of a dress that was never completed as well as fabric scraps and notions, rhinestones, crystals, and trim. We are also seeking ephemera in the form of medals and awards, feis program and competitor numbers, dolls, toys, etc. as well as shoes, hair accessories, brooches, and more. And we love photographs and stories!


Please reach out with general questions and queries.


Keep in Touch: Irish Dance museum collection celebrating the history of Irish step dancing in the San Francisco Bay Area.


For those of you with an old Irish dance costume (of ANY vintage) lurking in the back of your closet, you can donate your old dress for display!

Watch the Keepers in Action!



Keepers of the Steps enjoyed a successful inaugural one-month exhibition in January 2022, and brought the show to a broader audience with a Pop-Up Exhibit at the Western Regional Oireachtas in November 2022, which was hosted in San Francisco. As the program and reach expands with support from the Irish Government as well as a grant from the Dance Development Fund of An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha, the program has begun forming collaborations and alliances with others interested in this type of research and preservation.

Keepers in the News

“Keep” up with the latest headlines chronicling our research and preservation efforts. Media inquires: Eileen Mize

“We keep adding to the rich tapestry of the San Francisco Irish dance story with each accrual, and we are so grateful for all the community support and interest.”

Eileen Mize

Founding Committee Member

Keepers Events

Keepers Photo Gallery

Our Keepers of the Steps program runs on 100% volunteer power—we are so grateful! What a mighty crew of can-do creativity and cultural pride we have at the helm serving on our Keepers Committee—and big thanks go out to our volunteers who have lent a hand (or a dress!) in making our various exhibits and presentations possible.

With Support from: