Megan Howard thinks her son has exceptionally fast feet.

A mother's love can be generous, but in this case, the New Albany resident has national and international judges on her side.

Her son, 12-year-old Lochlan "Lucky" Howard, holds the world championship title for Irish dancing in his age group. For the past three years, he has been named North American champion. And this month, he will perform with his school, the Academy Irish Dance Company in Westerville, at the Dublin Irish Festival from Friday, Aug. 4, to Sunday, Aug. 6, at Coffman Park.

Before Lochlan -- the formal Irish name for the nickname, Lucky, his mother said -- was traveling across continents for competitions, he was a toddler watching his older sister, Brooke, now 18, perform.

Brooke began Irish dancing at age 6, and Lochlan came along to competitions as a baby, Howard said. Playing with toy trucks, he would sit and listen to the music.

Enrolling him in Irish dance classes at age 7 was a natural progression, Howard said.

Beginning at such a young age meant Lochlan never really had a chance to develop stage fright.

"It was just dancing," he said.

A considerable amount of practice is required before Lochlan takes the stage.

Before a big performance, Lochlan will be in the studio three to four days per week, Howard said. A major performance or competition has him in the studio five to six days a week.

While Brooke was known for the height of her jumps, Howard said, Lochlan's talent is the treble -- a term in Irish dance describing when one's feet scuff from side to side to make the noises associated with the dancing.

When Lochlan dances within a group at such events as the Dublin Irish Festival, performances can last up to five or six minutes, Howard said.

Competitive performances are much shorter, at about one to two-and-a-half minutes long, Lochlan said.

Boys' competitions include a soft-shoe dance -- a reel -- and a hard-shoe dance -- either a hornpipe or a treble jig, Howard said. Those in the top half of the best scores move on to perform a third dance, either the horn pipe or the treble jig, depending upon what the second dance was.

Lochlan doesn't have to wear the traditional wig and dress worn by female Irish dancers -- he wears black pants, a black sport coat and a white shirt -- but Howard said the sport still is an expensive one.

The shoes make up most of the expense.

Soft shoes usually cost $80, and Lochlan goes through those every three to four months, Howard said. The hard shoes, made of fiberglass, are about $175 a pair, and Lochlan needs a new pair every six months, she said.

Aside from the expenses, the hardest challenge for parents with children in Irish dance is the time commitment, Howard said.

The experience of traveling and watching her son win championships can seem surreal, because upon returning home, "it's back to regular business," Howard said.

Lochlan has visited Canada, England, Ireland and Scotland for Irish dance competitions, she said.

He competes in the under-13 age bracket.

For 2015, 2016 and 2017, Lochlan has held the title of North American Champion in his age group, Howard said. In October, he competed in England in a bid to become the Great Britain Champion for 2016-17.

At 10 years old, Lochlan earned second place at the World Irish Dancing Championships in Montreal, Canada, in 2015, Howard said.

Last year in Glasgow, Scotland, he tied for first place.

Earlier this year, in Dublin, Ireland, he won the title outright, she said.

Howard said her husband, Ron, enjoys telling others about his son's accomplishments.

"He is just so proud and happy," Howard said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah