Joan Denise Moriarty’s family had strong links to Mallow in County Cork. She spent a lot of her youth in England. Joan Denise Moriarty first established her school of dance in 1940 in Patrick Street in Cork City. She later moved to the studio in Emmet Place. Today the school has a purpose built studio in John Street Lower in Cork City.

Joan Denise Moriarty was a traditional Irish musician, champion Irish stepdancer, ballet dancer and teacher, choreographer of over 100 works, and the founder of professional ballet in Ireland.
She opened her Cork School of Dancing in 1940; seven years later she set up Cork’s first amateur ballet company, the Cork Ballet Company (1947-1993). In 1959 she founded Ireland’s first professional ballet company; Irish Theatre Ballet (1959-1964). It had twelve dancers who toured the cities and towns of the country, north and south. When the company had to be disbanded due to lack of funding, Moriarty did not abandon the idea. In 1973 she founded her second professional company, the Irish Ballet company, later re-named Irish National Ballet (1973-1989); this was also  a touring company with 16 dancers. She had the Firkin Crane restored as a home for that company; it was not finished until after her death but is now Cork’s Dance Centre.

The school was then run by Ms Breda Quinn who was a former student and teacher at the school. The school continued to provide ballet classes to students in Cork City and County. Following the death of Ms Breda Quinn in 2009 the school continues to provide ballet classes carrying on the ethos of Ms Quinn and Ms Moriarty.

Ruth Fleishman talks about Joan Denise Moriarty as part of the Constant Reader Series for Cork City Libriary.  Press play to see the recording.

Joan Denise Moriarty Reading Cork City Library from www.jhvisual.ie on Vimeo.


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