irish dance shoes

Celtic Rhythm: The Specifics of Irish Dance Shoes

Irish dancing is a traditional folk dance that originated in Ireland and has now become a popular form of dance all around the world. One of the key components of this dance form is the unique footwear worn by the dancers. Irish dance shoes include soft shoes, or ghillies, for female dancers and hard shoes, similar to tap shoes, for both genders. They are designed for the specific footwork involved in Irish dance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Irish Dance Shoes

What are Ghillies?

Ghillies are soft shoes worn by female Irish dancers. They are made of leather and have a soft sole which allows the dancer to point and flex their toes comfortably. The laces are criss-crossed over the arch of the foot and tied around the ankle to ensure a snug fit. Ghillies are lightweight and allow the dancer to move gracefully and quickly across the dance floor.

What are Hard Shoes?

Hard shoes are worn by both male and female Irish dancers. They are similar to tap shoes in appearance but have fiberglass tips and heels which create a louder sound when striking the floor. Hard shoes are heavier and sturdier than ghillies, and their sound is an integral part of the music and dance. The shoes are made of leather with a hard sole and laces that tie up around the ankle.

Do Irish Dance Shoes Come in Different Sizes?

Yes, like any other type of shoe, Irish dance shoes come in different sizes. It's essential to get the right size for comfort and support during dance performances. An ill-fitting shoe can hinder a dancer's performance and lead to injuries. The best way to ensure you get the right size is to get your foot measured by a professional and to try on several pairs of shoes before making a purchase.

The Importance of Proper Footwear in Irish Dancing

Irish dance is a form of dance that requires precise footwork and quick movements. The proper footwear is crucial to the performance and can make a significant difference in the dancer's ability to perform. Ghillies and hard shoes are designed to enhance the dancer's movements and minimize the risk of injury. Additionally, proper footwear allows the dancer to execute the precise footwork required in Irish dancing and produce the unique sounds that accompany the dance.

Taking Care of Your Irish Dance Shoes

Irish dance shoes can be expensive, and it's essential to take proper care of them to ensure they last as long as possible. Here are some tips for taking care of your Irish dance shoes:

  • Store your shoes in a dry, well-ventilated area. Avoid leaving them in a damp or humid environment.
  • Wipe down your shoes after each use with a soft, damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Keep your shoes polished to maintain their appearance and protect the leather.
  • Replace the tips and heels of hard shoes when they become worn to ensure the best sound quality.


Irish dance shoes are an essential part of the Irish dance tradition. Ghillies and hard shoes are designed to enhance the dancer's performance and allow them to execute the precise footwork required in Irish dancing. Proper care and maintenance of Irish dance shoes can ensure they last as long as possible and provide the best sound quality for performances.

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