Not many students can say they spent their summer in Ireland winning a bronze medal. But that’s what Lincoln eighth grader Gwen Harkey and her sister Eliana (Ellie), a fourth grader at Columbus, did.
Each won a bronze medal in the World Championship competition for Irish Music in Mullingar, Ireland, in Irish Lilting in August.
“It’s amazing and unbelievable,” said Gwen. “The medal means so much, but the competition and being there means just as much. The medal is the reward for the hard work.”
“It is very special and something I am proud of, especially since I wasn’t sure how I would do,” said Ellie.
The two got their start with Irish music just four years ago in 2018 with the St. Louis Irish Arts, and because of the pandemic, had not done many competitions and had many lessons virtually.
Yet, they competed in the Midwest Regional Fleadh in the spring, where they both qualified for the All-Ireland (World Championship) Fleadh. There are seven regional events around the world that qualify students to attend the World Championships. Two of those are in the United States, but in Ireland, they have qualifying events that students have to go through in order to even get to Regionals, making the Harkey sisters’ medals even more impressive.
Both Gwen and Ellie said placing third alongside each other made it even more special and that the competition and the trip is an experience neither will forget.
“It was incredible to compete on a world stage and to be there with so many people who do the art I do,” said Gwen.
“I liked the feeling of when I finished because it was like, oh, wow, I just competed in Ireland, and not many people get to do that,” added Ellie. #d7proud