Forum: Irish / Irish - Hardshoe

A Comparison of the Features of Hullachan Hardshoes and R&O Hardshoes (karma: 2)
By boleyngrrl
On Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:56 AM

Much of this comparison was part of a thread that grew when I posted a pair of Hullachans for sale. I thought dancers who might not be looking for new shoes right now might find the information useful or interesting. I have danced in both brands of shoes and like them very much. There are a few differences, which may or may not be important, depending on the dancer's style and personal preferences. The basic features listed are those any dancer should be looking at critically when considering new shoes of any brand. not just these two. The shoes featured in the photo above are Hullachans.

Comparison Between Hullachan and R & O Hard Shoes

Sizing: R&O medium widths are quite a bit narrower than Hullachan's. Anyone with a wider foot may be more comfortable in Hullachans. Lengths seem to run about the same, which is pretty true to size (Size UK5 for size US7.5-8, medium width).

Shoe Profile: Hullachan fronts are a bit wider and blunter, with the toe box not as pointy. Hullchans have no vertical seam at the heel. R&Os look a bit more dainty and feminine (because they are pointier and just seem smaller).

Tips and heels: Hullachan uses a different material for their tips and heels. It is heavier than the R&O material. The sound of the tips and heels seem to be a bit louder and of a lower pitch than the R&O's; the R&O sound has a vitreous china quality to it. The taps on the Hullachans look like they're made of wood (but aren't) and their sound is more tappy, whereas the R&O's are quieter. The front of the Hullachan toe has a larger flattened surface for toe work. R&O heels slant outwards in the back, resulting in more precise heel clicks. My friend and I were talking at dance about his pair, he said that it's hard to walk without clicking your heels. They sound sort of plastic-y, though they are loud. R&O heels are lower than Hullachan's, although the bottom surface area is wider. They have the name Ryan and O'Donnell carved into the outside of the heels. The tips on both brands are of similar height and the profile is just about the same. Hullachan tips are wider at the front and the flattened portion (for toe walks) is larger and wider, although placed further down on the front. It starts about halfway down the tap, as opposed to the R&Os which have it almost directly on the front of the tap. Also, I found out why the R&Os have a plasticy sound to their heels--they are hollow, and the caps are screwed on. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because I haven't heard of any falling apart, just something to add to my comparison. Hullachan heels are solid.

Leather: Hullachan leather uppers seem to be a slightly thicker grade, with a pebbly surface. The surface of the R&Os is smoother and shinier. Both have black suede soles¡ the Hullachans have a gold H stitched into the suede between the pad and heel. The R&Os have a silver stamp that says Ryan and O'Donnell (and shoe size)in the same location on the sole.

Lining: Both brands have padding, but Hullchans have much more cushioning, especially around the instep. There is more cushioning on the Hullachan insole. Hullachan tongues are nicely padded, while R&O tongues lack this feature. The interior lining is comfortable and wicks away sweat. Each brands' liners appear to be made of different materials. I haven't the experience with the R&O shoes to tell if they work as well as the Hullachans with wicking sweat, although that's their claim on their website.

Structure and Support: Hullachans have a ("removable", but I wouldn't) non-slip pad just behind the tip that helps prevent slips and lessens the likelihood of taco toes. It also eases the upward curve of the toes relative to the ball of the feet. It is fairly easy to get up on toes in both brands of shoes, even when they are new. There is a shank in the Hullachan shoes for support, but it is quite flexible. They have about the same amount of arch support (which isn't much). I've never had a blister in a Hullachan hardshoe (except from my poor, dead, current, 3 year old pair during a recent, intense 3 day workshop--Please note, this is not the new pair I am selling in this listing), so that's a major bonus for me. Hullachans are really, really well made.

Straps and buckles: Hullachan straps are narrower and are of a little lighter weight leather than R&O. R&O buckles are less sturdy and lack the rollers that are on Hullachan buckles. Hullachan offers optional white straps for a small fee; my pair doesn't have them.

Weight: Hullachans are much heavier than R&Os. They seem really bulky in comparison.

Customer Service: The R&O guys are always on their facebook page. If you need something, chances are it'll be answered in a couple of days, if not hours (I've asked them lots of questions. As a dancer with lots of injuries I wanted to know if they could back up all their claims; so far, so good). Craig Coussins (of Hullachan) is, without a doubt, a joy to work with. He was really patient with me and all the issues I had finding the right pair, as well as keeping me in the loop as to when his new edition shoes (the current version) would come out. He really wants you to be as happy (and healthy) in his shoes as possible and his quality is always good. He is occasionally slow with his responses, but they are always helpful when they come, often giving the answer to the question asked as well as anticipating questions that might occur having read the first answer.

In conclusion, both of these brands seem to be really excellent shoes coming from good shoemakers. I love Hullachans, although from what I've seen I wouldn't say no to the R&Os without trying them. However, I have said this before and I'll say it again; I'd take the old version of the Hullachan hards over ANY other hardshoe by any other shoemaker. I love my current pair and I'm really sad that I have, without a doubt, killed them. They're low profile, loud, and supportive.

2 Replies to A Comparison of the Features of Hullachan Hardshoes and R&O Hardshoes

re: A Comparison of the Features of Hullachan Hardshoes and R&O Hardshoes
By boleyngrrl
On Mon Oct 15, 2012 01:15 AM
For comparison, these are photos of Ryan and O'Donnell shoes.
re: A Comparison of the Features of Hullachan Hardshoes and R&O Hardshoes
By IDParent
On Mon Oct 15, 2012 04:30 AM
Thanks for all the great info

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