Liz Flynn, Helen Twomey, Gráinne Ahern & Tina Collins at the recent schools blitz

Liz Flynn, Helen Twomey, Gráinne Ahern & Tina Collins at the recent schools blitz

Adapt Collection

ADAPT Domestic Abuse Services would like to extend sincere thanks to the volunteer collectors who raised the amount of €575.75 at the annual collection in Athea.  Thanks too to all those who contributed.  The funds raised will go towards the upkeep of the Refuge and maintaining the Outreach services in Abbeyfeale and Newcastle West and other areas.  The 24 Hour Freephone Helpline is there for anyone who needs to talk to someone who will listen and understand.  A new Support Group for women survivors is starting in Newcastle West next week,  ring 061 412354 for details.

Athea Children’s Drama

Present their show and plays ‘Alice in Blunderland’ and  ‘The Sleepover’ at Con Colbert Hall on Saturday, July 4th and Sunday, July 5th at 7pm. Everybody welcome to come along and support the children.

Killeaney AFC 40th anniversary Celebrations

Killeaney AFC is celebrating its 40th anniversary on the weekend 3rd to 5th July with music, raffles and spot prizes at the Knockdown Arms on Saturday night. Special guest is John Delaney, CEO of the FAI. A buffet will take place on Saturday night in a marquee erected for the weekend. Tickets at €25 each are available from club members. Come along for the celebrations and the music plus the spot prizes on offer. There is a special door prize of a break for two in Galway.

Annual Day Trip

Our annual day trip will take place to Kilkenny on Tuesday, July 14th. For more information contact Marie Wrenn on 087-7674832 or Joan Fitzgibbon on 087-9865005.


The Summer Seisiún takes place at The Devon Inn Hotel on Thursday nights.  Great night of music, song and storytelling.

The Joys of Dancing

Dancing has always been one of the great forms of enjoyment and entertainment. Solo dancing in Ireland is taught in many schools throughout the country, especially since the popularity  of “River Dance”, one of the most moving and successful shows ever to be staged. In recent years “sean nós” dancing has spread from small pockets in the Gaeltacht areas to all parts of the country. Its main appeal is the freedom of expression it allows the dancer compared to the more rigid approach of the dancers who compete in the feiseanna. Hip hop dancing has also become very popular with the younger generation. Today however I want to dwell for a while on the social dancing of the past century. It had a very special part in our lives  when we started to go to dances in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Sunday night was dancing night and we looked forward to it all the week long.

There were very few big dancehalls in those days but we had a number of small ones in our locality. Apart from the main one, Tobin’s in Abbeyfeale, there were dance halls in Devon Road, Templeglantine, Kilconlea and two in Athea, Kelly’s and Scanlon’s. Some people even cycled as far as the Old Mill which was a long journey in those days. There was little or no amplification for the bands except for a mike for the singer and a speaker which was usually placed  on the wall half way down the hall. Some of the owners used to put lamp oil on the wooden floors to make them easier to dance on. Despite the fact that most of the dancers smoked and would stub out the butts on the boards, I can’t ever remember a fire starting in any of the halls. Imagine what a fire officer would say today!.

Getting started in those days wasn’t that easy. Ballroom dances and céilí dances had to be learned before taking to the floor or you could make a fool of yourself and run the risk of ever again getting a girl to dance with you. The dances included the quickstep, foxtrot, samba,, tango, military two step, waltz, polka, siege of Ennis, two hand reel etc. – quite a list to learn. There was always some neighbour who would take you out and give you a few lessons and by trial and error you would eventually get it right. Once you had the few steps you were on your way. Getting a partner was the next problem. The men gathered at one side of the hall and the ladies at the other. When a dance was announced there was a stampede across the floor and you were lucky if the first girl you asked said yes.  She may have the dance promised to somebody else. After a while, when you got to know the girls, it was easier and you knew going in who would be your partner for the various dances. Some were good waltzers, others good polka dancers and the slow dances were reserved for someone you had your eye on ! The slow dance gave the opportunity to get up close  and if she joined you for a “mineral” after the dance was over you knew you had, as they say nowadays “pulled”.  The courting ritual was fairly simple. The courting couple left the hall and found some secluded spot where a lot of hugging and kissing went on but very little else. Don’t get me wrong, there was the odd girl who would allow more intimate contact (the current generation didn’t invent sex) but this was not the norm and we all went home happy with our bit of a cuddle.

As time went by new dances emerged. The most popular of these was the jive. I often wondered what enjoyment girls got from turning backwards and forwards under her partners hand but they seemed to like it. Then the twist made a brief appearance. It was a silly kind of a dance with a lot of shaking of hips and descending to the floor and back up again. Thankfully it was short-lived. The small halls soon closed and many bands dropped the céilí music altogether  as they became more professional and, using more modern equipment, were able to play the songs from the current hit parade. Soon the showbands appeared on the scene and newer, bigger ballrooms sprung up all over the country. Dancing became big business and soon many of the bands became famous and could attract huge audiences to big venues. It was also becoming easier to travel as more and more people got their own transport so dancers might travel to the Oyster Ballroom, Drumkeen to hear the Royal Showband or  Dicky Rock. Ballybunion was very popular in the summertime and Tom Tobin extended his place in Abbeyfeale. There was also a big ballroom in Newcastle West. Eventually they too all closed and dancing as we knew it was almost gone. There are places at the moment where social dances attract many older couples who relive their younger days  on the floor but nothing will ever replace the old dancehalls where we started out.

Every generation tries to do things differently and the modern discos give them their outlet but give me back the tin roof, the timber floor (even with the lamp oil) the courting down the lane and the sheer joy of it all.

Domhnall de Barra