Ballinastack Dancehall

There was a well-known dancehall in the village known as Ballinastack Hall. In the late 1880s it was a herd house. It was burned down in 1922 by the Black and Tans. It was rebuilt in 1925 and used as a dwelling house for a period. Tommy Coyne opened it as a dance hall in 1929. His brother-in-law, Peter Moore, acted as foreman. Ned Fahy and his brother built the hall and Ned acted as doorman as well as playing the fiddle from time to time. The admission fee was 3s 9d which at the time was the price of a suck calf. The ladies outnumbered the men by five to one. A drink license was granted and there was no shortage of liquor! The Ernie Barber band which at the time was the biggest band in Ireland played in the hall. An Offaly man by the name of Stephen Garvey also played there. The biggest dance of the year was held on Christmas Night.

It was in use from the 1930s up until the late 1950s. In the early 1940s it was extended and a new maple floor was fitted. It was said to have been the first maple floor in the west of Ireland. It had a tea room, sweet shop and Shebeen, where scores of men and women met their husbands and wives. During World War 2 petrol was rationed. Those who could get petrol came in cars but the main mode of transport was bicycles and in the summertime they even came in traps and sidecars. Travelling shows used to come there regularly. It was also used as a cinema for a number of years. In the summer of 1952 Ardeevin National School was accidentally burned and the hall was used as a school until the new school was finished in 1955. The hall closed in 1955 and it was demolished in 1975.

There was an active drama group in Ballinastack. Plays were rehearsed in a rambling house in the townland known as “Cooneys” and staged in Ballinastack Hall, Glenamaddy Town Hall, Williamstown Town Hall, Flanagan’s in Ballymoe and in the Cummer Ballroom on the Tuam to Galway road. There was a great social life in Ballinastack in those years. It was from here that some of the sets and curtains came that supported the staging of the first plays by the now famous Glenamaddy Drama Festival. There was a great social life in Ballinastack in those years. It was a lovely place in which to grow up and it holds precious memories for many people.

Tom Mannion, Ballinastack 
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