Ballrooms of romance to feature on iMayo TV
By Tom Gillespie
A NOSTALGIC three-part television series on Mayo’s ballrooms of dancing and romance will be broadcast on SKY, commencing this week.
Henry McGlade of iMayo TV travelled around the county with his cameraman to relive the glory days of the dancehalls.
He visited many of the ballrooms, and spoke to people who danced in them. He also interviewed some of the showband stars of that era as well as the dancehall proprietors.
Henry said: "Mayo was the land of the thousand dances in the 1960s and early ‘70s. The dancehall was the centre of social life with up to 80 ballrooms and dance venues in Mayo alone.
"Some of the leading showbands were from the west of Ireland - the Jack Ruane Showband, Brose Walsh Band, Doc Carroll and The Royal Blues, Shay Cribbin and The Riviera."
Henry recalled that Jimmy Higgins, in his book ‘Are Ye The Band’, described Mayo as the land of a thousand dances.
He said: "There were more dancehalls in Mayo than any other county, and it became known as the dancing capital of Ireland, while Galway claimed the title to be the marquee capital."
The three-part programme is commencing this Thursday, March 25, at 7 p.m. on the iMayo TV Show Sky Showcase channel 191.
Part two will be broadcast the following Thursday, April 1, and the final part on Thursday, April 8.
Henry added: "The programmes feature people who danced in the ballrooms, Mayo bands who performed in them, including the Brose Walsh Band, John Kelly and the Niagara Showband, Tom Kelly Trio, Frank McCaffrey, The Royal Chords, and The Paramount Showband.
One of the many dance-going couples to feature in the series are Michael and Nora O’Malley of the family-run tarmacadam business.
The couple first met in the Arcadia Ballroom in Belcarra 57 years ago and they returned to the Belcarra venue (pictured) to relive the golden days of the ballrooms.
The three-part programme was made with the support of Mayo.ie, Mayo County Library Service, and Creative Ireland.