DUBLIN, Ireland. (WTNH) — Inside the Belvedere Hotel in downtown Dublin, the sights and sounds that define Irish culture, and connected to it all, is Hamden native Jim Murrihy.
Jim Murrihy was born in New Haven, and grew up in neighboring Hamden. Jim’s parents, Jimmy and Clare Murrihy, moved to the United States from their native Ireland in the 1960’s. His mother said that young Jim to an interest in dancing when he was just three-years-old.
“He always loved dancing, he always loved it from the very time he started. He’d always be practicing, and we always went to the competitions through the year all over.”
Jim said that learning his family’s history and culture was always important.
Our parents wanted to make sure that we knew where he came from every year we cam back to Ireland. I loved the dancing a bit more than the music.”
Jim won many trophies for his Irish dancing skills, with many of them displayed in the family home in Hamden. His parents and sister are also accomplished Irish dancers.
All of his years of dancing and practice would pay off big in 1995, after Jim competed in the World Championship for Irish Dancing in Dublin. At that competition, he was discovered by Michael Flatley, creator of “Riverdance” and ” Lord of the Dance”.
“That year I didn’t get first or second,” Jim said. “I got third that year, and he asked not the first or second place dancer, he asked me would I be in his show he was starting. I thought it would be a year down the line, but two weeks later I got the call and they said can you be here the following Monday for rehearsals.”
Just like that, Jim picked up his life and moved to Ireland. Traveling the world for seven years, as an original cast member.
“You’re talking about one or two shows a day traveling on planes and buses, it’s grueling; but once you get on stage and you hear 5,000 people behind you cheering it’s absolutely fantastic.”
He event spent some time performing in Las Vegas. His parents said it was an incredible time in their son’s life.
“It was very very exciting. We used to be so thrilled for him. He really loved it,” his mom Clare said. His dad, Jim, added, “The people that I work with they watched what he was doing. They followed his progress through me because I would be talking about him.”
Which brings us to the present day.
Jim is now the director and choreographer for Damhsa, one of the premiere Irish dance companies. Jim has hung up his dancing shoes, but still lives in Ireland, with his two sons, managing Irish dance shows. He continues to immerse himself in something he’s loved for more than 40 years.
“It’s just the beat of it, and the rhythms of it,” Jim said. “It gets people cheering, clapping, and smiling.”