I always thought of Irish dance as a slight variation of tap dancing. While some movements are similar, Irish dance actually came first. So In one way, the beginning sentence might be true. However, it is still a hasty generalization. Irish dance is very different in many ways as well.
First of all, the term “Irish dance” is more like a category in which various dance styles reside. For example, Latin dance has varying styles such as the Tango and Salsa, and Irish dance has styles such as Ceili dance and step dance. Speaking of step dance, this type of Irish dance is one of the most well-known and is often confused with the tap dancing I mentioned above. Step dance and tap dance can easily be confused because of the similarity in the movements and concept. The unique feature of making your own music with your feet is shared by both dance styles, though each style uses different shoes and techniques. For the shoes, tap dance and step dance make a slightly different sound because of the material on the shoe. Tap dance uses metal on the toe and heel, and step dance usually uses fiberglass. In technique, step dance focuses more on the legs and feet with a more isolated upper body, whereas, tap dance mainly focuses on feet but is still a full body dance style.
Here is a visual that will help exhibit the differences:
Irish step dance:
For more information on the history of Irish dance, check it out here.
For more information on step dance, you can click here.