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Riverdance stars make steps to the altar with 40 weddings

RIVERDANCE is most famous for creating a new era of Irish dancing -- but it is also the cause of more than 40 weddings.

Since the production first kicked off 17 years ago, it has developed a history of romance and relationships, the Herald can reveal.

As the high-kicking performers travel, work and socialise together on tour, troupe weddings have become a regular occurrence since 1995.

The company's current captain Niamh O'Connor met her husband and fellow dancer Padraic Moyles backstage and the pair got hitched four years ago -- becoming the 38th Riverdance couple.

The 36-year-old, who was 19 when she embarked on her first trip with the production, said that while it's tough living in a hotel room with her other half, the fact that the love birds can travel around the world together makes up for it.

"It is difficult because you're living in one hotel room, but in a way that's good because you have to discuss everything and there's nowhere to go.

"It's also brilliant that I get to see dozens of different cities with my partner and have those memories. And it's a great support system, because it's quite hard being away from home for such long periods of time and having your husband there means you have that shoulder to cry on," said Castleknock native Niamh.

She joined up to 20 riverdancers last night when she took to the stage in the Gaiety Theatre to kick off their Irish string of performances. The extravaganza will run until September 2 at the city centre venue.

Also in the line-up is former Prodijig member Craig Mason (21), who has quit Got To Dance winning group Prodijig. Craig, who hails from Newcastle, revealed that while it was "an amazing experience" lifting the Sky 1 competition's trophy earlier this year, he felt compelled to leave and pursue his "true childhood dream".

"In my heart of hearts, I wanted to go on to do what I'd imagined. I didn't leave Prodijig on bad terms, but I just felt like Riverdance was a childhood dream for me and something I had to live out.

"I genuinely had my heart set on this, even though doing the competition [Got To Dance] was a big achievement, I'm more comfortable with what I'm doing now and more liable to continue doing in the future."