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County Mayo Ireland

Meet the Callaghans

A Family of Irish Dancers

The Callaghan roots can be traced back many generations to County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland. Michael Joseph Callaghan (Glen Hest), Bridget Theresa O'Malley (Louisburgh), and Sarah Gavin (Murrisk) all grew up near the famous mountain of St. Patrick and migrated to Chicago in the 1920's, contributing to the growth of the Callaghan Clan.

Catherine Callaghan

Catherine Mary Callaghan


Catherine's Irish dance lessons began in 1968 alongside her five younger siblings in a basement in Chicago. She grew up listening to the thick Irish brogues of her Grandparents tell stories, sing songs, and pass on the Irish culture of music and dance. 

She signed up all three of her children when they were 12 (Marc), 10 (Karl), and (Alanna) 4. They all fell in love with the art form, and soon were asking for more than one lesson a week - bringing delight to have both her sons AND her daughter involved in a sport together!

As a parent, Catherine enjoyed the opportunity to travel locally and internationally for competitions, making life-long friends along the way. Her kids learned countless valuable life lessons including patience, dedication, setting and reaching attainable goals, mastering a skill, and most importantly that hard work pays off!

Catherine was determined to give her children a unique well rounded education in Irish Dancing - attending 10 different dance schools, as well as countless workshops with gifted teachers from Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada, and America. Each instructor added to their collective skill set, enabling the Callaghan siblings to pass on the best tips, tricks, and styles to their own students in the Callaghan School of Irish Dance. 

Alanna Callaghan Irish Dance

Alanna Callaghan

Director / Lead Instructor

Alanna has a passion for spreading the joy of Irish culture through dance, music, and teaching. As a child she learned to play Irish music on the Accordion while attending 3-6 dance classes per week. Determined to make her dream of becoming a champion come true, Alanna worked hard to achieve the titles of 3x Western Region Champion, 2x North American Champion, and a 2x World Champion in both solo and team dancing. She was even featured on the front page of Irish Dance Magazine!

While she enjoyed winning medals and trophies, Alanna found her true passion when she started teaching at the age of 16. She has accumulated the best tips, tricks, and traits from every dance school she attended, and in turn has created her own method of training for children and adults alike. 

Eager to share her talents with the Santa Barbara community, Alanna opened the Callaghan School of Irish Dance in 2019. She is the lead instructor, and works directly with every student in every class. Catch her dancing and playing her accordion at Alice Keck park every Sunday from 3-5!


Karl Callaghan

Featured Instructor

Karl has a manly style of dancing that is incredibly powerful and strong. Through his competitive career, he attained titles including Great Britain Champion, and All Ireland Champion. 

His competitive career came to a close when he was offered a position with the prestigious show, Riverdance. He toured the world dancing for over 6 years, making friends in every corner of the globe.

His lessons in Irish dance have propelled him to excel in many areas of life. He is now a  practicing attorney in New York. Karl runs occasional intensive workshops exclusively for the most advanced dancers of the Callaghan school of Irish Dance.


Marc Callaghan

Traveling Instructor

Marc is an exceptional dancer, and renowned choreographer who attained the title of European Champion during his competition years. He has a passion for learning languages, and while traveling abroad to study, he was able to continue to connect with friends in the global Irish Dance community. 

He has held a judging position at major international competitions, and has a gift for advanced choreography that he shares with the Callaghan School of Irish Dance.

Our Mission

Friendship. Culture. Community.

Firedance Academy of Irish Dance strives to build an environment that encourages long-lasting friendships, cultural enrichment, and participation in community events. 

Alanna Callaghan is a World Champion Irish dancer who has brought her talent of this art form to the Santa Barbara community for over 3 years. She specializes in teaching the fundamentals of Irish Dancing to beginners, as well as advanced students of all ages. Alanna is a passionate teacher spreading the joy of Irish culture through music and dance. 

Ceili Dance
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