That old ballroom of romance gets new life for 21st Century

Causeway Community Action Group members Tommy Duggin, Fiona Casey, Elaine Moriarty, Evelyn Leen and Henry McHenry at the old Shannon Ballroom they have just agreed to acquire amid plans to restore it as a hive of local activity - this time as a Community Centre.
Photo By Domnick Walsh
Causeway Community Action Group members Tommy Duggin, Fiona Casey, Elaine Moriarty, Evelyn Leen and Henry McHenry at the old Shannon Ballroom they have just agreed to acquire amid plans to restore it as a hive of local activity - this time as a Community Centre. Photo By Domnick Walsh

Dónal Nolan

Causeway people are taking it upon themselves to breathe new life into the community - by purchasing one of the village's best-loved social spaces of old for use as a local hub of activity.

Causeway Community Action Group (CCAG) members this week are to restore the old Shannon Ballroom in the heart of the village to its former glory. Showbands might no longer pass through on tour, but there's no shortage of other events and activites that require a local home. The group is now launching a campaign to raise the €80,000 cost of the property, after entering into an agreement to purchase it.

"This offers the people of Causeway a huge opportunity as the building will be fully owned by the community and available to be used by the organisations within the parish, with long-term plans to be put in place to sustain its future use," CCAG Fiona Casey said.  Fiona explained that a committee has been appointed to steer the fundraising efforts - which is getting underway with the aid of a crowdfunding GoFundMe page. 

"We have set up a committee specifically focused on driving the project to completion," Fiona said, adding: "Plans are well underway to begin the fundraising required to purchase it, we have set up a Go Fund Me page which is live now and has already received some donations and we will also be writing out to all the households in the parish over the coming weeks to seek donations towards the purchase of the building." she stated. The Shannon Ballroom was built in 1947 by local man Ned Young on his return from the UK after the war and opened to massive fanfare in 1949 (lit initially by tilly lamp as rural electrification had yet to arrive to Causeway). It would become one of the main social hotspots of the district, hosting the biggest names in showbusiness.

Giant acts of the showband era entertained the crowds from North Kerry with performers like Maurice Mulcahy, Hugh Cahill, Butch Moore, and Mick Delahunty and his Orchestra regular live acts in the Shannon. In fact, such was the popularity of the latter act that the catchphrase 'Rain, hail or snow, to Delahunty we must go!' was widely used. The Shannon Ballroom was also famous for the quality of its dancefoor. It was said it had the finest dance floor for its time, with handball sponge used on top of the joists to give the Canadian Maple floor that extra spring.  Travelling theatre groups such as the Listowel Players were also regular guests, with local and regional ceili bands performing there. And it was also the local cinema as Hollywood glam lit up the Causeway nights over the decades. No Shannon Ballroom event was as eagerly anticipated as the Christmas and New Year's dances. While it closed as a ballroom in 1965, it continued in community use until its complete closure in the late 1990s - in a sad sight for all those with so many wonderful memories of the Shannon.

"At present the building has fallen into a state of disrepair and has become an eyesore in the village. By purchasing the building and breathing new life into it, we can put in place a multi-functional space that will once again be a hub for social, cultural, sporting and other interests within Causeway," Ms Casey said on launching the campaign this week.

Kerryman

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