Offaly stories dominate new book about the dance hall era

Eight Offaly people feature prominently

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


Offaly stories dominate new book about the dance hall era

Offaly stories dominate new book about the dance hall era

Eight Offaly people feature prominently in a new book recalling the halcyon days of the showband era, which was launched this week.

'From The Candy Store to the Galtymore' chronicles the 1950s to the 1970s in rural and urban Ireland through the stories of the young men and women who religiously went to their local 'Ballroom of Romance' each weekend.

The book echoes an era of social and cultural uprising in Ireland as the country began dancing the weekends away to the sounds of showbands in newly-built ballrooms.

It was the time of Joe Dolan, Brendan Bowyer, Dickie Rock and Butch Moore and wherever they played, the crowds followed.

Birr natives Eileen Casey (Cordial) and Brendan Mulhern, Edenderry resident Mary O’Connor and Clara brothers Ed and PJ Cunningham all give accounts of their dancing days and nights.

In addition, New York-born Peter Nolan, whose father hails from Clara and was a great Offaly and New York footballer of the fifties and sixties and Frances Browner, who spent her youth holidaying in the Ferbane-Cloghan area, also give vivid and incisive accounts of their exploits on the dance floor.

Co-editors PJ Cunningham and Dr Joe Kearney trawled the country over the past year to bring Ireland’s showband stories together in one book.

The book, which is dedicated to music man extraordinaire, Ricey Scully, also contains two hilarious stories rolled into one by the former Twiggs and Crackaways member concerning The Singing Nun and U2.

In all, there are 70  contributions contained in this social and cultural review of the time.

“From The Candy Store To The Galtymore is a collection with twists in every turn – stories of romance, of chance meetings and tales that are funny and maybe even mischievous,” said PJ.

“All human life gathered for the weekly dances in what was a cultural shift away from the more formal céilís which held sway up until then.

“The showband dances were modern and slightly more brash occasions than the country had been used to but, if anything, the number of stories of love and loss, rows and ructions, fun and games grew in the new environment.

“The book looks at this era from left of centre and collects the forgotten, overlooked or rarely-told stories of that time.”

The sources are mainly ordinary folk with some interesting insights from singers, musicians and band managers as well.

It is available all over the country from this week and is published by Ballpoint Press.

From The Candy Store To The Galtymore is Co-edited by PJ Cunningham and Dr Joe Kearney, distributed by Ballpoint Press 2017 and costs €14.99.

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