Hosting the Winter Olympics in Calgary was a momentous event. The Opening Ceremony welcomed the world to our city, presenting who we are. We were approached to organize representation of the Irish Community in “Alberta’s Rocky Mountain Salute to the XV Olympic Games”. We sought representation from the Dance Schools, GAA. Rugby Club, and Liffey Players. We also endeavoured to gather a demographic mix of participants for the occasion including both youthful and senior members of the community. Preparation was arduous as we joined teams from other rehearsing our song and practicing our choreography under the watchful eye of Roland Kirouac. On the big day we ran out together onto the field to play our part and proudly loft our Failte banner to one and a half billion TV viewers around the world.
Pat Beingessner wrote afterwards “For 12 minutes the eyes of the world would be watching as we showed our love for our heritage, our belief in our Country, and pride in being the host Olympic city. Yes, the rehearsals were long and cold, and at times our patience was sorely tested, but when the count down to the games began, those negative thoughts were quickly replaced with the greatest feeling of excitement we have experienced. It was indeed a magical moment to be remembered always”.
Irish contingent at the 1988 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony. Front Row: Nathan and Nigel McCavana, , Andrea Irwin, Kerry Houston, Erin Beard, Sarah Irwin, Middle Row: Pat Beingessner, Claire Regent, Finnuala Irwin, Beverley Beaton, Gail O’Neill. Back Row: Dan Bolger, Anne Cowman, Harry McCavana, Brian Evens, Ann Pawluck, Jack Millican, Sally Houston and Ann McCullagh