Kitty McDarby 1917-2003.
Kathleen Mary Hutton was born on 21st April 1917 but for the
remainder of her life was known as Kitty.
The family lived at 6 Upper Staplestown Road, her parents were Edward
and Julia Hutton, Julia was formerly Julia Ryan of The Ridge,
Portlaoise. Kitty went to school in the Presentation Convent School,
Tullow Street and later attended the Technical School on Dublin Street.
In 1933 she won the Irish Dancing Senior County Championship.
For over 40 years Kitty held Irish Dancing classes, starting in the
kitchen of her home on Staplestown Road as "The Hutton School of
Dancing". Following her marriage in July 1946 to Percy McDarby of the
Dublin Road the classes became known as the "The McDarby School of
Dancing" and Kitty became affectionately known to all as "Mrs Mac".
The Classes moved to the Forresters Hall in College Street where she
held Saturday classes for many years. Kitty attempted to teach me a few
steps but I think she had to give up on me as, unlike my brother Pat, I
could only get one foot to do "the 1~2~3 and a 1~2~3 ~~~
1~2~3~4-~5~6~7". I can still do a very impressive one legged Jig and
Reel to the amazement of onlookers.
Over the years Kitty's pupils took part in many Feiseanna, Concerts,
Exhibitions, Parades and many times appeared on Television. A Feis was
held every July in Carlow Town Hall in which her pupils won many Awards,
Cups and Medals for which Kitty arranged live music provided by Mr. Ber
Landy and Paddy Kavanagh. Kitty also organised Pantomimes and Christmas
Parties for her pupils. In fact she looked after her pupils as if they
were her own children.
In 1982 Kitty received a Special Award from the Eire Og Football Club
in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Irish Culture and on
Saint Patrick's Day 1986 she received further Awards from C.na G. and
C.C.E. in appreciation of her lifelong commitment to the development of
Irish Dancing. In the last years of her life her family took Kitty many
times to see River Dance, she was immensely proud and pleased to see how
Irish Dancing had evolved to become such a major attraction throughout
the world of entertainment.
Following her death on November 29th 2003, Annie Parker Byrne paid
the following tribute to Kitty in The Carlow People newspaper:
"The death took place at the Sacred Heart Hospital Carlow on
November 29th of Mrs Kitty McDarby, widow of the late Percy McDarby of 3
Larkfield, Carlow. For more than 60 years Kitty was recognised by all as
a great Irish Dancer. Many youngsters learned Reels, Jigs and Hornpipes
etc. in the back kitchen of the Hutton home at Upper Staplestown Road.
Kitty took no nonsense from her pupils, they learned to dance properly
or else !!. Needless to say the parents wanted their children to excel
so we had had to pay attention and learn our steps from Kitty and today
we can look back and recall many fond memories of the Hutton "dancing
school" later to become known as the McDarby School of Dancing. Kitty is
survived by her daughters, Kathleen, Colette, Geraldine and their
Source: Michael Purcell c2008