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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Mrs Kathleen McDarby

© Artwork by M. Brennan 2012 copyright - All rights reserved

Mrs. Kathleen McDarby
Irish Dance Teacher
Founder of the McDarby School of Dancing in Carlow
Handwritten caption underneath this picture reads:
Miss K. Hutton Winner of Co. Carlow Junior Championships 1930 - 32, Miss J. Tobin Minor Champion 1932. Pupils of Miss Hutton's School of dancing.

Note from Michael Purcell, Miss Kathleen Hutton fourth from right is the future Mrs McDarby of the famed McDarby School of Dancing. Seated in the centre is her sister Miss Eileen Hutton who was the teacher and founder of Miss Hutton's School of Dancing. Eileen later married John Purcell of Tullow St. and at the time of her death was living at Montgomery St., Carlow.

Image & Info from M. Purcell c2008

A group of young pupils who attended the Presentation Convent c1941.
Front Row 6th from left; Margo Cradden and 2nd from left is Sheila McGrath.
Sheila McGrath who came from Carlow was an Irish dancer, with the Mrs McDarby's school of dancing. c1955. Dance practice used to take place in Mrs McDarby's house in upper Staplestown Road, and then later it was held in the INF Hall College St.
Image & info sent by Michael Cradden 2008

Pictured at a Feis in Carlow are the Pupils of McDarby School of Dancing, circa early 1950s. Mrs McDarby in light coloured coat is kneeling in the front-centre of the picture.
Image courtesy of M. Purcell

Pupils of McDarby School of Dancing class of 1954 Feis Mór Ceatharloch open prize-winners.
(front row): Peggie Hennessey, Maura Brannigan, Bernadette Culleton, Kathleen McDarby, Veronica Harvey.
(back row): Marie Broderick, Ann McGrath, Lar O'Tole, Sheila Mooney, Jim Nolan, Betty O'Rourke, --------? ,Eileen O'Keefe, May O'Rourke and Breda Broderick.

Personal notes:

I remember all the people in the 1954 class. Especially Sheila Mooney and Jim Nolan, they were really good dancers. But does anyone remember Mrs Shaw-Rae. She started a dancing school in St Fiaac's hall I thing about 1959-60. I went there when we moved from St Patricks Ave to Graigue. I can remember sitting on the steps waiting for her to arrive. She drove from Bagnalstown. I'm not sure how long she lasted there. But they were nice times.

Email from Margaret Oct 2008

A group of Carlow football supporters at Carlow Railway Station in the early 1960's on their way to Dublin. In the group is Mrs Darby (indicated).

Image courtesy of M. Purcell

Image & info sent by Michael Cradden 2008

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 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 families."

Source: Michael Purcell c2008

Carlow Men's Choir

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