Larry McKee Memorial Trophy

The Story of the Award

Larry McKee and The Shandonairs were formed in 1968.  They were the first Irish dance band outside of Ireland to record music for Irish Dancers in addition to ceili dancing music. 

During the 60's, 70's and 80's, many people were emigrating from Ireland to major North American cities like New York, Chicago, Boston and Toronto, and were attending dances and social events as social pastimes.

This band was a main fixture at various Irish cultural events during this time period across North America.In the early 1970's, Larry McKee met Paddy and Mae Butler,

and quickly became the resident accordian musician for the Butler Academy of Dancing in Toronto up to 1982.

As a result Larry became one of the most popular Irish dance competition musicians in North America during this time period on the feis circuit,

when most major competitions were in the US. Many of the over 12 albums that Larry McKee and The Shandonairs recorded during this time period have music specific to Irish Dancing

at the beginner, intermediate, advanced and team dancing level. In 1982, The Shandonairs retired from active music recording so the members could spend more time with their young families.

The Shandonair's Maple Leaf Belt was sponsored by The Shandonairs as a way to preserve a growing Irish Dancing culture in Canada.

Larry McKee presented the award for almost 20 years until his sudden passing in 2001.  We are honoured to continue the family connection as Ryan McKee now presents the award each year.

Maple Leaf Championship for 'The Shandonairs' Perpetual Belt

In 2013, thanks to the generosity of Ryan McKee and his family, the Shandonairs Maple Leaf belt was retired

and replaced with the Larry McKee Memorial Trophy, which preserves the history of this prestigious award by bearing the inscription of all previous winners.

Previous holders of 'The Shandonairs' Belt

1983 - Paula Doherty

1984 - Paula Doherty

1985 -

1986 -   

1987 - Cathy Canavan

1988 - Cathy Canavan

1989 - J. R. Vancheri

1990 - Ryan Carroll

1991 - John Timm - Richens

1992 - Stephen McAteer - Butler Academy

1993 - Stephen McAteer - Butler Academy

1994 - Darren Smith - Grant

1995 - Stephen McAteer - Butler Academy

1996 - Lindsay Doyle - Butler Academy

1997 - Lindsay Doyle - Butler Academy

1998 - Stephanie Wright - Butler Academy

1999 - Nora Corrigan - Butler Academy

2000 - Anne-Marie Keenan - Short School

2001 - Kathy Irvine - Fearon

2002 - Kathy Irvine - Butler Fearon

2003 - Sinead Irvine - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2004 - Emily Penner - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2005 - Emily Penner - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2006 - Emily Penner - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2007 - Emily Penner - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2008 - Emily Penner - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2009 - Emily Penner - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2010 - Lorcan Balfe - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2011 - Michaela Hinds - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2012 - Michaela Hinds - Butler Fearon O'Connor

2013 - Lindsey McBride, NFOC

2014 - Michaela Hinds, Butler Fearon O'Connor

2015 - Nate Schutte, Butler Fearon O'Connor

2016 - Brynna McVittie, Goggin-Carroll