The McGahan Lees Irish Dance Academy now holds classes all over the South of England — click here for a full list of classes. The Academy was founded by Frances McGahan, A.D.C.R.G., now an experienced and qualified teacher and adjudicator. All our teachers are fully qualified and registered with An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha — one of the governing bodies of Irish dance. Our teaching staff also include our personal trainer, Katherine Grainge and qualified TCRG, Caroline Gray, who manages to come and help our dancers in between her Lord of the Dance performance commitments.
Frances McGahan, ADCRG, BGCRG
The Academy was born in 1996 when Frances gave up her job in London to launch herself into the less certain world of Irish dance teaching. Frances is assisted whenever possible by husband Guy, who has a full-time day job of his own. From small beginnings, Frances has built up a thriving and successful school. Frances achieved a major goal in 2004, when she took her adjudicator’s examination. Since then, she has recently qualified as a Grade Examiner, adding the BGCRG initials to her name.
Although the Academy is a relatively young Irish dance school, it now has regular championship winners, a number of regional champions, and a host of dancers who compete at international level. In 2006 the Academy enjoyed the success of two solo World Champions — Caroline Gray (U13) and Stephen Brennan (U19). This was followed in 2008 when Cecily Charlton won the Senior Ladies World title in Belfast 2008.
As well as 3 coveted World Championships, McGahan Lees dancers have also won titles at the All Ireland’s, Great Britain’s, British National’s, All Scotland’s, and North American Irish Dance Championships. But more than that, the Academy has become a real community with its own ethos and social life. The dancers have a strong sense of identity and support each other in competition and training — but don’t underestimate that competitive edge, evident at the annual Class Feis!
Marion Flanagan, ADCRG, BGCRG
Marion was born in Oxford of Irish parents. She was introduced to Irish dancing at the age of four and danced for the Anne Flood School of Irish Dancing in Oxford. She later went on to dance for the McDonald Academy and competed at the World Championships from the age of 15 until she retired from dancing competitively to start teaching.
Marion has been teaching in Oxford for 24 years and is also a qualified adjudicator; she has recently judged such competitions as the World Championships, the All Irelands and various regional qualifying competitions. Her pupils have achieved titles at competitions all over the world, including the North American Nationals, Great Britains, British Nationals and European Championships, as well as winning World Medals and placing in the top ten at both the World Championships and All Irelands.
Along with Frances, Marion has also recently qualified as a Grade Examiner. Only experienced adjudicators are eligible to take this exam, so to have two of our teachers pass is a very prestigious achievement!
Cecily Charlton, TCRG
Starting at the age of 9, Cecily was one of Frances’ first pupils at McGahan Lees. Inspired by watching Riverdance, she instantly fell in love with Irish dance and quickly became the academy’s first ever champion. As she developed under Frances’ tuition, she went on to become Southern England regional oireachtas champion and two-times Great Britain champion. Cecily’s passion and dedication paid off in 2008 when she was crowned senior ladies’ World Champion, in the Waterfront Theatre, Belfast.
Cecily is a talented choreographer and has showcased her work on TV’s The Only Way Is Essex, Big Brother’s Little Brother and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. She is also honoured to be head choreographer for the Southern England Regional Oireacthas Parade of Champions each year.
Cecily’s main ambition in life was to teach Irish dancing. Frances’ drive has definitely been passed on to Cecily. So much so, that she successfully passed her TCRG exam in 2008. Cecily continues to fulfill her dreams of imparting her skills to others. She believes strongly that ALL children have the ability to thrive in a fun and safe environment.
Debbie McGahan, TCRG
Debbie started dancing at the age of four with the Maguire O’Shea Academy as a hobby as her older brother and sisters were already attending classes. Debbie went on to become a top 10 medal holder for the World, British Nationals, Great Britain, All Ireland and American National Championships both as a solo and ceili dancer. At 20 years old Debbie was offered a place in both Lord of the Dance and Riverdance the show. She then went on to tour most of Europe and Asia with Riverdance the show with the Liffey Company until she had her eldest son in 2002. Debbie feels so privileged to be a dance teacher at MCGL and loves nothing more than seeing new dancers fulfil their true potential and dreams.
Liz McCarthy, TCRG
Liz is originally from Portland, USA, where she began her dancing career with what is now the Yeates Academy. While there, she had the opportunity to train with Michael Smith, Tony Comerford and Annie McBride. She later danced for the Celtic Gold Academy under Doireann Maioleidigh in Los Angeles before moving to Oxford in 2007 where she joined Marion.
Liz has competed around the world, recalling and placing at the World Championships, All Irelands, British Nationals and various regional qualifiers. She spent two years touring with a number of professional Irish dance productions, including as lead dancer with Dance of Desire. Liz obtained her TCRG in 2010.
Leanne Gray, TCRG
Leanne started dancing at the age of 7, and joined McGahan Lees from the age of 10. Through her hard work, Leanne achieved 2nd place at the World Championships in Philadelphia, 2009. She has placed in the top 5 in the world a total of 3 times, amongst numerous other world medal positions. She is two-times British National champion, All Ireland champion, American National champion, and has won the Southern Regional Oireachtas 3 times.
Leanne has been passing on her success since 2012 when she passed her TCRG exam, taken in Glasgow, at the age of 21.
07940 367825; firstname.lastname@example.org
Isabel Yorke, TCRG
Izzy started her Irish dancing career aged 9, after a family holiday to Ireland where she was inspired by watching dancers ad-lib with a traditional Irish folk band. Back in Essex, she quickly joined McGahan Lees and was taught by Frances from day one. Her achievements include becoming Southern England regional champion three times, placing in the top five at the Worlds and All Irelands for two years in a row and gaining a total of seven world medals across her career.
Izzy has always enjoyed teaching children and started helping out in classes at the age of 16. She has since spent four years after university working as a learning support assistant. Drawing on this experience, and passion for Irish dance, she qualified as a TCRG in Limerick, 2013.
07917 724824; email@example.com
Siobhán Forrest, TCRG
Siobhán started dancing at the age of 4, following a trip to visit family in Ireland. During her dancing career Siobhan achieved numerous consecutive World Medals, as well as winning the North American National Championships and placing 2nd at the British National Championships.
Whilst at university, Siobhán joined the Carey Academy in Birmingham where she found a passion for Ceili and Figure dancing, alongside her competitive career as a solo dancer. Siobhan competed in both mixed and girls’ teams and was fortunate enough to add several top 3 World Championship placings for both Ceili and Figure to her list of achievements
Siobhan joined the McGahan Lees Academy in 2013 having returned to Essex and furthered her dancing successes by obtaining her TCRG qualification in Limerick in June 2014.
07969 054077; firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Kingham, TCRG
Amy started dancing at the age of 5 and moved to the McGahan Lees Academy at when she was 10. During her competitive career Amy achieved countless world medals, attending local and major international feiseanna for over 12 years. Her proudest achievement was gaining 4th place at the prestigious All Ireland Championships in 2013.
Amy is the latest member to join the McGL team, gaining her TCRG qualification in the 2015 Dublin Exam. Amy now looks forward to her transition from dancer to teacher within the school, passing on her passion and love of Irish Dance and working with the team she has always looked up to for guidance.
07429 983090; email@example.com
Katherine has 10 years experience as a personal trainer, working with all ages, abilities and goals.
Having been a competitive Irish dancer for 7 years, she has an understanding of the fitness, strength and nutrition required for Irish dance. She works closely with dancers to improve their overall condition, alongside performance.
After completing GCSE and A-Level physical education, Katherine went on to complete a diploma in personal training. Her qualifications include:
- Level 2 & 3 Personal training
- Circuit training
- Core strength & stability
- Nutritional advice & guidance
- Stretching & flexibility