Last call for stories from Ireland’s showband era


People with memories of the halcyon days and nights of dancing to showbands are being sought to retell their tales as part of a new publication due out later this year…. but hurray, the closing date for receipt of your stories is  Friday July 28.

The book – ‘From The Candy Store to the Galtymore’– aims to provide a  mirror into this unique time in the life of 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 aim of ‘From The Candy Store to the Galtymore’ will be to detail the experiences of ordinary folk who attended the hundreds of ballrooms of romance which mushroomed around the country at that time.

The book will be co-edited by PJ Cunningham and Dr Joe Kearney. The editors stress that they are seeking particular stories rather than people just remembering that Joe Dolan or Brendan Bowyer or Dickie Rock played their local hall.

“Obviously the same bands played all over Ireland so it would become repetitive if every story mentioend seeing the Drifters, the Royal or the Miami showbands,” explained PJ Cunningham.

“What we want are the stories of romance, of chance meetings or tales that are funny and maybe even mischievous,” he pointed out.

“All human life gathered for the weekly dances in what was a cultural shift away from the more formal céilí dances 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 cultural and entertainment environment,” he added.

“Ideally,” said co-editor Dr Joe Kearney, “there should be a bit of tension or drama involved in what people send in to us. That way, we will be able to deliver a more rounded collection.”

“When you consider that there were maybe 200 or 300 bands traversing the country every weekend and there were dancehalls sprouting up all over the place, then a serious amount of interaction was inevitable,” he emphasised.

Dr Kearney also remembers his own youth working in London. “In my day over there in the sixties, many of us spent our time in poor accommodation in Cricklewood and Kilburn, while others migrated to Manchester, Liverpool and places further afield.”

“We lived for the visits of the Irish showbands to provide a flavour of the life we had left behind and provide an escape from the humdrum of ordinary living.

The Galtymore, The 32 Club, The Gresham and the Hibernian in London were meccas for us. They were packed to the rafters every time Irish showbands played there,” he recalled.


How to contact editors


Dr Joe Kearney (087 2633041)

PJ Cunningham (086 8217631) or




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