The Industrial Hall Clonakilty, known as the ‘dancing mecca of West Cork – where love stories begin’ will throw open its doors for a charity dance on Saturday, October 14. The event is in aid of Community Air Ambulance, Ray Hayes Rehabilitation Fund and the local Youth Club.
Music will be provided by Paul Kelly and Band, who is supported by Ger Deasy. Dancing from 10pm to 1.30 pm. Admission €20 and tickets will be available at the door.
Photographs taken by Bluett Photography in the 60s and 70s and currently exhibited in the hall will bring back memories for many.
In the 1960s and 70s, a number of love stories began in the marvellous dance halls in West Cork – the Industrial Hall in Clonakilty, Lilac in Enniskeane, Boy’s Club in Bantry, Crowley’s Hall in Union Hall and of course the marquees at the festivals of West Cork and Festival of the Carberies.
Girls and boys from all over the country came to the Industrial Hall to dance the night away. In the 1960s they waltzed and fox-trotted to the big bands of Maurice Mulcahy and Mick Delahunty. In the late 60s and 70s, they jived, huckle-bucked and twisted to the fabulous music of all the showbands.
Clonakilty’s Industrial Hall was built in 1913 as an exhibition hall to house the homemaking industries, which were a major feature of the Agricultural shows of that era. The hall was officially opened in 1913 by Mrs Bence Jones, wife of the then-president of Clonakilty Agricultural Show, Mr Reginald Bence Jones, Lisselane, Clonakilty.
Back in the early 70s, dancing took place on a Thursday Night in Clonakilty, Friday Night in Innishannon and Sunday in the Lilac Ballroom in Enniskeane. In the mid 80s, Innishannon closed its doors, so Clonakilty took over the Friday slot and continued right up to the early 80s. The dances were run by the combined clubs of Clonakilty Agricultural Show Society, Clonakilty Macra na Feirme, Ardfield and Rathbarry Macra na Feirme, Kilbree Tug-o-War, and St Mary’s PPU.
Many people now in their 50s will remember the Show Dance with Gina, Dale and the Champions. The history of the Show Dance goes back even further – the dance on show night, the second Wednesday in July, was followed the next Sunday night by a Scrap Dance, where the leftovers from the show would be consumed.
Maurice McCarthy, a well know historian in Clonakilty, tells the story of his uncle who was a bachelor and creamery manager in Clonakilty at the time of the scrap dances. His uncle was encouraged by the farmer suppliers to go to the dance, which he did. The following day, the suppliers were curious how he got on and this was his reply…
“Those that were available were unsuitable and those that were suitable were unavailable”. That’s romance for you!
The Industrial Hall hosted so many bands over the years…Big Tom, Joe Dolan, Brendan O’Brien, Brendan Boyer, Margo, Derek Dean, Gene Stuart, Larry Cunningham, Roly Daniels, The Dubliners, Liam O’Reilly and Baggatelle to name just a few…the list is endless and include two most famous bands, The Waterboys and Boyzone.
Few dance halls have lasted the test of time but the Industrial Hall is still producing romances at it’s Boiler Room discos over 100 years later.