A céili in full swing during the Maureen Culleton Festival of Dance
Japanese and Australian Irish dancers will be among the international guests at a unique Laois festival that kicks off next Monday July 30.
The Maureen Culleton Festival of Dance is organised by the lady herself, an Irish dancing teacher who is passionate about keeping traditional Irish music and dance alive and well in Laois.
"It is an annual festival to promote the Irish culture. We get people from not just all parts of Laois, but the four corners of Ireland, and Japan, Australia and mainland Europe," she told the Leinster Express.
Irish music is big in Japan she explained.
"Japanese people are very taken with our music. I have been to Japan to teach dance and they come and dance here, and I keep them informed of events so they will be coming over for the festival," she said.
The week long festival is mostly free of charge to enjoy for all, and is based at An Sean Chistin, in Irey, Ballyfin near Portlaoise.
It kicks off on Monday July 30 with a céilí at 8.30 pm to the music of All Ireland Champion accordionist, Keelan McGrath and friends.
"An Sean Chistin comes alive to the sound of Irish music, song, dance, poetry, stories, laughter, friendship and fun, with events each day," Ms Culleton said.
A Rambling Session on Tuesday 31 at 8pm welcomes all to contribute a song, dance or story, or just relax and enjoy the great company, cuppa and chat.
A special Irish language event will be held to celebrate Bliain na Gaeilge on Wednesday August 1 at 8pm. A Pop Up Gaeltacht will welcome visitors to use their cúpla focal in a relaxed, inclusive environment.
On Thursday August 2 at 8pm, it's Laois Matters, a celebration of the people of Laois with local songs, music, dancing and stories. With complimentary Cupán tae nó caifé.
On Friday August 3 the festival moves to The Community Centre Ballyfin for a Céilí Mór at 9.30pm with Johnny Reidy CB. Admission for this is €10.
It is back to An Sean Chistin on Saturday for a whole day of dance classes.
From 11am to 4pm there will be sean-nós and brush dancing workshops for all ages and abilities, price €10. Dancers are advised to bring a packed lunch but there is free tea and coffee.
The festival rounds off on Sunday August 5 with a Slán Abhaile Session at An Sean Chistin at 7.30pm.