Two Cochrane Irish dancers are in Montreal right now preparing to compete in the World Irish Dancing Championship.

Riley Daley, 19, and Carra Hurley, 18, both have a lifelong passion for Irish dancing and are no strangers to high-level competitions both in Canada and abroad, but this is the biggest of them all.

The pair were among only five dancers qualifying at a regional competition. They now join about 2,500 dancers at the competition from 23 nations. Over 10,000 spectators are expected.

Both train 15 to 20 hours a week and Hurley attends the Bishop Carroll High School in Calgary. so she can be closer to the Gott-Hughton Irish Dance Academy. Daley graduated from Cochrane High last year.

This will be the fifth time at the world championship for Hurley, who has also been dancing since a young age.

"My family's from Dublin, so most of my dad's side Irish dance. That's how I got into it."

"It's just a great experience," she says. "We put so much time into training, so once you find like achieve your goals, it just feels great to be able to attend such a high standard of competition."

It's Daley's first time in the worlds since falling in love with Irish dancing at age five.

"Performers from a school came to my school when I was in kindergarten, and I thought it was just the coolest thing ever," she says. "So when I came home, I told my mom I need to dance, and that's how I got into it."

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The world championship follows many other international competitions. Most recently in October, Riley went to London to compete in the Great Britain Irish Dancing Championships. In February, they both went to Ireland to compete in the All-Ireland Championships. 

In July, they'll be heading to Nashville, TN for the North American Irish Dance Championships.

"It's definitely one of our favorite competitions. The worlds is obviously exciting too, but it's more of a serious competition. At nationals, we can have a lot more fun."

The pair send a big thank you to their coaches and families for making it all possible.

"They always put in so much time to help us. They're always traveling with us, and supporting us through everything. They're our big support system through all the competitions, through all the highs and lows."

The Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha (CIRG), is the world's largest competitive Irish dancing organization. Montreal is its 51st annual competition. Last year, it was held in Belfast, and next year it will take place in Scotland.

The Gott-Hughton Irish Dance Academy, where they train, was founded in 2017 to foster competitive excellence in a fun, enriching classroom environment, where students can build lasting friendships.

irish dancers groupSome members of the Gott-Hughton Irish Dance Academy are competing at the world championship. Front row from left, Sarah Murray, Carra Hurley, Riley Daley, and Justin Fry; back row, coaches Elspeth Houghton and Ian Gott. (photo/Tanya Hurley)