From Clare to Canberra: The Jack Canny Story Part 2-About Jack

Jack Canny would have been just over 3 years of age when the Easter Rising of 1916 took place in Dublin a hundred years ago, miles and worlds away from his home in the small townland of Glendree, two miles West of Feakle, Parish of Tulla in County Clare.

Maghera Mountain 1

Maghera Mountain, close to Jack’s home in Co.Clare, where Jack’s friend fell down a peat hole one foggy night coming home in the dark from dancing.                                     Image: http://www.ClareBirdWatching.com

The eldest of three sons of Patrick Canny and Catherine MacNamara, Jack was active,  and lively – “happy as a sand boy”, as he recounted, and was a natural sportsman including regular games of hurling, and later, cycling.

And, of course, there was music. His father, Pat Canny, was a noted local whistle and fiddle player “It was their main hobby when their day’s work was done in the farms. We had no radios or televisions at that time. We had to make our own enjoyment and our main enjoyment was music.”

“My Dad played, he was a great inspiration to all of us. He used often take down the fiddle on the long winter evenings and he’d play there for half an hour, just to keep on practising. He used to do that once a week…sometimes once a fortnight.”

Mark Tandy with Jack Canny

Jack Canny and Mark Tandy. Image: M.Tandy

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Adults: What’s stopping you from dancing?

Often adults talk animatedly to me about their desire to dance, finishing with a crest-fallen look and “Oh, but I didn’t learn to dance as a child”. Occasionally,  I’m not sure if this is an excuse for not dancing or a genuine regret that the potential joy of dance has passed them by. I suspect it’s the latter.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a community where dancing, singing and music-making was a normal, everyday activity. I danced at school, I sang and played my guitar on the school bus with a group of others, I danced at parties and I danced with my friends for fun in the lounge room. We were not doing any particular dance or steps, just moving to the music and enjoying it.

Fast-forward forty years, and what I see that dancing has become objectified: commodified in a way that makes it seem less accessible to people as an ordinary activity, and all about athleticism, show and performance.

The rise of TV dance shows may bring dancing into people’s homes but really not in way that makes people feel they can participate. There are dancers and there are audiences: never the twain shall meet.So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance1

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