World's longest-serving registered Irish dance teacher Geraldine Ryan teaches in Wodonga

CLAP ALONG: A dance teacher for 77 years, Geraldine Ryan catches the train to Wodonga each Friday to teach her classes at Voelker Court Community Centre.
CLAP ALONG: A dance teacher for 77 years, Geraldine Ryan catches the train to Wodonga each Friday to teach her classes at Voelker Court Community Centre.

AT 89, Geraldine Ryan has a spring in her step.

The longest-serving Irish dance teacher in Australia has had almost eight decades to refine it.

Melbourne-based Ms Ryan still travels up to 3000 kilometres a week around Victoria - including to Wodonga - passing on her skills to country dance students.

A dance teacher from age 12, Ms Ryan taught in every inner Melbourne suburb.

When she retired from her secretarial job, she found the city had plenty of dance teachers but the country was crying out for them.

"There was always a call for Irish dance teachers to go to the country," she said.

"I started coming up to teach in Albury 27 years ago, well before the Beechworth Celtic Festival started."

Now Ms Ryan travels to Kilmore on Monday; Hamilton and Crossley on Tuesday; Wednesday travelling home by train from Warrnambool; spends Thursday at Warragul; Friday night in Wodonga; and Saturday at Echuca and Bendigo before heading home by train. She flies to Mildura every second Sunday.

"It keeps me out of mischief!" Ms Ryan said.

The first registered Irish dance teacher outside of Ireland and England, Ms Ryan received the Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to dance last month.

Having grown up in Hawthorn, Ms Ryan was surrounded by Irish dance and music from the outset.

"It's in your blood," she said. "You love the rhythm of it and the joy of it, and the pleasure you get out of it.

SLIP JIG: Melbourne Irish dance teacher Geraldine Ryan teaches dance in Wodonga; it's her 27th year of coming to the Border. Pictures: MARK JESSER

SLIP JIG: Melbourne Irish dance teacher Geraldine Ryan teaches dance in Wodonga; it's her 27th year of coming to the Border. Pictures: MARK JESSER

"If you have a talent and some knowledge of culture it's your duty to pass it on.

"My dad always said to live every day to the fullest."

After a health scare last year, Ms Ryan was glad to be back on her feet.

"I fractured my back and doctors thought I'd not be able to walk again," she said. "So I'm happy to put up with a humpy back, it's only a small thing so long as I can travel around on my own."

Ms Ryan still takes her students to dance festivals in Europe and Asia each year.

In September she will celebrate her 90th birthday on a tour to Poland, Slovenia and Montenegro.

"I take 15 to 40 students and we haven't lost anyone yet in 30 years!" she said.

Ms Ryan doesn't have retirement on her radar: "While the good Lord keeps me plodding around, I'm going to keep chugging along!"

This story At 89, life's a jig as dance teacher covers up to 3000km every week first appeared on The Border Mail.