Meet Mairead O'Brien, Director of O'Brien School of Irish Dance


Mairead sits down and answers some of my questions.


  1. Describe Your Business. I run an Irish Dance School offering classes in traditional Irish step (and before Covid - ceilidh) dancing for children to adults.
  2. Why did you choose this profession? Truth be told, I ran out of money in university! I was an assistant for my dance teacher in Vancouver for a couple of years but then I moved to Victoria for school. After graduation, I worked full time at Western Forest Products but after having children, I wanted a schedule that worked for our family. 
  3. What was it like when you first started? In the beginning, I started by renting the gym at Monterey School. I had only one student who came for an entire term. I couldn't afford the rental, so I moved to teaching out of my parent's basement (they had just moved to Victoria). I had around 10 dancers that became a close-knit group where parents and dancers were like family. We learned dances for local festivals where everyone knew each other. Riverdance came along and classes changed very quickly.
  4. What is the most memorable experience you've had working with a customer? The most memorable experience is the ongoing relationship. I love keeping in touch wit hdancers who have graduated or moved on and hearing what dancing meant to them. It always amazes me how most alumni dancers will contact me around St. Patrick's week just to touch base and reminisce of fun memories.
  5. What were the factors that made you choose this neighbourhood? I rent space for classes so I feel so fortunate to have found Dance Unlimited and St. George's hall. Dance Unlimited was first in Esquimalt, which I adored! It was so close to town (4km!) and accessible from all directions which was important having dancers from as far as Sidney and Duncan. The new location at Uptown is just as fantastic being so central and close to amenities for parents. St. George's hall is in Cadboro Bay which has so much space, parking and parks, not to mention a fabulous beach which we took advantage of for summer camp!
  6. What do you love most about the neighbourhood? Accessibility for both Dance Unlimited and St. Georges (but would have to add the park space for Cadboro Bay!)
  7. What are your favourite restaurants in the neighbourhood? Esquimalt - I miss Sunnyside Cafe! Cadboro Bay - Lemongrass and Olive Olio's
  8. What is something most people don't know about you? I got toe opportunity to fly a plane (with an experienced pilot) when I was 18 thinking I wanted to be a pilot.
  9. Who from your childhood had the biggest impact on you? And what did that person teach you? I was so lucky to have a lot of people influence me so I can't say one had the biggest impact. 
  10. If a young person asked you for advice on how to live their life, what would you tell them? Invest in relationships. What you put in, is what you get out. Try to find something that makes you enthusiastic. 
  11. What else do you do besides work? Run, hike, camp, garden, bake. Reading... lots of reading.
  12. What does the future hold for you? Now with Covid, I take each week as it comes!