Wednesday 17 January 2018

Dancing down memory lane

Nostalgia trip as special school organises reunion fundraiser

Louise Hogan

THE weekly dance was known as 'The Blind' -- and St Joseph's School in Dublin's northside was the place to be seen in those fashionable bell bottoms and mini-skirts.

Teenagers jived and swayed as the sound of Georgie Fame's 'Sitting in the Park', the Foundations' 'Baby Now That I've Found You' and 'Build Me Up Buttercup' reverberated around the smoke-filled Drumcondra dance hall, played by DJ Sean Maguire.

"I was 16 or 17," recalled RTE broadcaster Ronan Collins, who grew up in nearby Phibsboro. "We used to venture down to chase the girls from Maryfield College, the ones with the stripey uniform."

"There was no drink, you had to be 'full' coming in," quipped Tony Cashin, from Cabra West, who met his wife Annette there in 1969.

They reminisced yesterday over the ''fun and frolics'' hundreds of young teenagers enjoyed there every Saturday night for decades while raising much-needed funds for the school for young children with sight problems.

The "word" was that Isadore Fleming and Noel McLoughlin "refereed the floor" as they tried to ensure nothing untoward would occur at the weekly dance, joked Sean Maguire who was DJ there during the '60s, '70s and into the '80s.

Collins recalled: "I think the modern comparison in Dublin would probably be Donie Bolger's gig out in Wesley. It was a much more innocent time."

Several decades later, St Joseph's Centre is hoping to resurrect the popular dance, with a 'Blind Reunion', featuring DJ Maguire and live music. Tickets for the fundraising event on Friday, November 26, can be purchased from St Joseph's Centre for the Visually Impaired.

The service is under threat from budget cuts and fundraising this year fell 50pc, Brian Allen, chief executive of the centre, explained. Around 110 children attend as residential and day pupils, with a further 500 in the main stream school supported by its braille and large-print production facility.

"We were forced to raise €1.1m this year to meet our shortfall,'' Mr Allen said.

Irish Independent

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