Deirdre Penk, a West Vancouver resident, began dancing at age four and was recognized as one of the top ten dancers in the World at seven World Irish Dance Championships. She is a North American Champion, placed second in the Great Britain and British National Championships, and won the Overseas Trophy three times at the World Irish Dance Championships, where she wrapped up her competitive career with a fifth-place finish in 1989. The Penk O’Donnell School of Irish Dance was established in 1995 as a way to get Deirdre out of her real estate office for a few hours a week! To her great surprise, it turned out that Deirdre had a real knack for teaching Irish dance! She now teaches full time in two locations in the Lower Mainland – Coquitlam and Burnaby. The students of the Penk O’Donnell School of Irish dance have achieved success at local, national & international level. Numerous dancers have won medals at World Championships and titles at the North American Championships. More important than medals and trophies to Deirdre, however, is a real passion for Irish dancing. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she imparts it to all her students. Whether you want to learn to Irish dance for fun and friendship, or to be the best in the World – this is the Irish dance school to dance at.
Patrick started Irish dancing at the age of 11 under the watchful eye of expert Christine Angliss from Coventry, England.
The passion was there from the beginning, but the talent, that was a different story.
Due to Patrick’s astigmatism, his lack of balance, overly large ears and his fragile ability to concentrate, it was believed by many that Patrick would have been better off in the circus.
“He was not easily discouraged,” said Mrs. Angliss with dismay, “and trust me we tried”.
At the age of seventeen, it was as though Patrick went to Woolworth’s one day and picked up a brain. Over the next five years, Patrick won the All England five times, the All Ireland three times and came second in the World Championships twice. Now this didn’t just happen out of nowhere, Patrick decided to dedicate himself to something that he was passionate about.
Patrick emigrated to Canada in 1982, but returned to England in 1987 to dance again, again coming second in the world championships. In his 29th year (now well passed it, by many accounts) he returned again for one last kick at the cat, so to speak.
In 1988 Patrick O’Donnell, won the senior mens World championships in Galway Ireland.
When speaking with Patrick now, he thanks profusely two people in his life for this accomplishment. “My teacher from England, Christine Angliss, and this wee girl I was hanging out with at the time, for all her encouragement and never say die attitude, Deirdre Penk”
And the rest, as they say, is history!