The Maple Ballroom Kilfinane
The Maple Ballroom, Kilfinane was built by Willie McAuliffe and opened on the 13th December, 1953. It was opened by the Ralph .Sylvester’s Orchestra, who was a first cousin of the late Victor Sylvester, a famous English Band Leader.
It was one of the most popular dance venues in the south of Ireland, and hosted all of the show bands of the era, Michael O’Callaghan, Mick Delahunty, The Clipper Carlton, Cecil Kettles from Enniskillen, (Johnny Logan’s Father sang with them). Hughie Traynor (Armagh), the Dixies (Cork), The Miami Showband, Dickie Rock, Butch Moore, Tommy Drennan, Brendan Bowyer, The Woodpeckers (from Dudalk). To mention but a few.
The one and only Bridie Gallagher
Many others graced the stage such as Frank Patterson (R.I.P), The Bunratty Singers, The Jazz Coasters and the one and only Bridie Gallagher, so great was the crowd at Bridie’s concert that the whole moat field was crowded with patrons who could not gain entry to the hall.
Many famous plays were performed there was “The Importance of Being Earnest”, “The Coleen Bawn” “Autumn Fire” and the lovely passion play “The Upper Room”, also classics like “Shadows of the Glen”. Drama companies also played there, Harry Bailey and company came for a week and stayed for six.
Vic Lovins Road Show, The Martin Roadshow, Jimmy O’Dea and Maureen Potter and Danny Cummins also graced the stage in the early days.
Tom and Pascal also frequently came with their own local brand of comedy and the late Jimmy Lehane came to entaintain the children with his magical acts.
Most of the patrons in the early days cycled to the dances, others came by Shanks Mare, taxis and buses.
It is part of rural life long gone now alas thanks to the T.V., Lounge bars and Discos.
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My father Jim Condon lent Willie his horse and cart and supplied him with sand from our sandpits. I remember Willie broadcasting on his car microphone at O’Connell St., Limerick on Saturdays promoting the Maple Ballroom. His daughter Bids was a super dancer and showed me how to waltz properly.
Great memories! Thanks Biddy and Paddy xxxx
The Maple Ballroom brings back lots of pleasant memories. I remember well the night Bridie Gallagher appeared (was it 1958 ?) I was about ten at the time. As I recall entry to dances used to cost 5/- back then but for Bridie it wa a princely 10/-. Willie always came accross as a man full of energy and always on the go, He was an exeptionally nice man and a thorough gentleman.
As a child I went on stage in the school play, but it was the lights in the shape of shells that won my heart. Also as a young one, saw someone play a guitar on stage so I was desperate to own one. My poor father Billy O Farrell bought me a child’s one and the tune i wanted to come out of it didn’t happen – I was well let down but the adults around were amused.
Great story pity it wasn’t there when I lived there .
Willie did most of the work building the hall. He dug the foundations, built the dwarf walls, built the walls, plastered them, decorated them. He drew all the building materials ie. sand gravel, stones which he got free from Joe Kelly, John O’Neill, and the stones from the old graveyard. Joe Nunan’s men did all the carpentry work and also put on the roof. Brendan Ryan all the electrical work. I know all this to be true, I am Willie’s son. May they all rest in peace. Liam McAuliffe
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