: Founder Mark Howard with Irish dance legend Pat Roche.
Pat Roche was a County Clare native that dedicated his legendary life to promoting Irish dance in Chicago through his own school and the creation of the first Chicago feis (Irish for competition). Most of Mr. Roche’s grandchildren would eventually be trained by Mark Howard at his Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, with several going on to win America’s first world team titles.
Characteristic of Howard’s commitment to honor those whose shoulders we stand on, he created the Chicago Pat Roche Feis in 2002. In its first year, the Pat Roche feis was the largest in the world, attracting nearly 2000 dancers from across the nation. Last spring, Howard had the honor of inducting Pat Roche into the Irish American Hall of Fame, saying, “Pat Roche saw things nobody else could see. It was the gift that allowed him to make such a massive dent in the universe. 𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗰𝘁,𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗰𝘂𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻,𝗯𝗲𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝗻𝗼𝗶𝘀𝗲. 𝗧𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗣𝗮𝘁 𝗥𝗼𝗰𝗵𝗲.”
Pat’s talented daughter, Peggy Roche Boyle was also a positive influence in Howard’s first years as a teacher and went on to be the honorary chairperson for Pat Roche Feis until her untimely death on April 14, 2018.
This weekend, hundreds of dancers will honor Pat Roche’s legacy at the 18th annual Pat Roche feis!