We want to keep Joan Denise Moriarty's legacy alive

We chat to Sharon Manning of the Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance
We want to keep Joan Denise Moriarty's legacy alive

Sharon Manning of Joan Denise Moriarty Dance School.

In our weekly Person to Person column, we chat to Sharon Manning, Director of Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance, whose students perform pieces from The Nutcracker at GLOW this month

Tell us about yourself:

After finishing my Leaving Certificate, I went on to train as a confectioner at the Farmhouse Bakery, where I met my partner James Walsh, who is a baker.

I grew up with three sisters and one brother along with my parents Mathew and the late Mary Manning, I also have lots of aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides of the family.

Joan Denise Moriarty started her dance school in 1940 and my Aunt Breda Quinn inherited the school on Ms Moriarty’s death in 1992. 

Breda passed away in 2009 and my sister Michelle Twomey and myself have continued to run the school. It was Brenda’s wish for the school to remain in the family and to keep Ms Moriarty’s legacy alive.

Our aim is to create a happy and safe place for children to come and learn to dance with our talented and dedicated teachers.

Myself and Michelle love to work with our talented teachers to create performances and make amazing memories for the students. We also make a lot of our costumes with the help of parents.

Where were you born:

Cork city.

Where do you live:

Ballyphehane, Cork city, around the corner from my family home.


My partner James Walsh, daughter Karena, Natasha and son-in-law Aidan and grandchildren Colm and Cara.

Earliest childhood memory:

Owenahincha in the summer, where my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins all hired houses for the summer holidays together.

The person you most admire;

Vicky Phelan, who has been so brave, inspiring everyone, even when she is going through the hardest time of her life.

The person who irritates you the most:

Donald Trump.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

New York City at Christmas time.

Favourite TV programme:

Strictly Come Dancing.

Favourite Radio Show?

RedFM, Neil Prendeville.

Your signature dish if cooking:

I love to make a traditional roast dinner (the students also love my cookies!).

Favourite Restaurant:

Thyme at 76 on the South Mall, The Imperial Hotel.

Last book you read:

The Missing Sister, by Lucinda Riley.

Best book you read:

Watermelon, by Marian Keyes.

Last album /CD/ download you bought:

Debut, by Ryan McMullan.

Favourite Song:

John Spillane’s We Come In The Wind. Our girls danced to this song for St Patricks Day and it got more than 300,000 views on social media.

One person you would like to see in concert:


Do you have a pet?

We have a Samoyed Dog called Lumi, he is a beautiful dog but sheds lots of hair!

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Night Owl. I spend many a late night sewing costumes.

Your proudest moment?

Too many to mention, but we were so proud to see our students supporting each other and adapting to all the difficult times during lockdown. The students achieved so much during lockdown with zoom and outdoor classes, creating dance videos and fund-raising videos for charities close to us.

We recently had to cancel our Christmas shows as the Covid numbers were too high and we did not want to put any families at risk, the students had worked so hard in rehearsals but they took it very well and we hope to do them when it is safe to do so.

Spendthrift or Saver?

Spendthrift... who doesn’t love shopping!

Name one thing you would improve in your area?

I live near Tory Top Park, it would be great if it could be used as an outdoor music and entertainment venue.

What makes you happy?

I love watching our students perform, watching them as they grow up, building confidence, learning new skills, and making great friends.

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered for bringing many kids and parents together to make incredible memories, and especially friends for life.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Our students are taking part in a music video Embrace The World, with RSVP productions.

We are in rehearsals at the moment to take part in GLOW, A Cork Christmas Celebration with 55 of our performance students dancing pieces from The Nutcracker from 4pm to 8pm on December 17, 18 and 19 in Bishop Lucey Park as part of GLOW.


To celebrate GLOW, Bishop Lucey Park has been transformed into a festive wonderland inspired by the song the 12 Days of Christmas. Enjoy fantastic views of Cork on the iconic 32m Ferris Wheel on the Grand Parade. Pre-booking of Bishop Lucey Park and the Ferris Wheel is essential on glowcork.ie. GLOW runs every weekend until December 19.

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