Late nights in the ‘Ballroom of Romance’

By Dan Walsh

Entertainment was the first casualty of the Covid-19 lockdown and probably will be the last to return which turns our tradition firmly on its head as our nation likes to bogey, waltz, jive and smooch whenever a musician creates a rhythm.

St. Stephen’s Night used to be one of the great occasions. Thousands would flock to Adamstown. For many it was the highlight of the Christmas holidays and many teenagers would be on temporary release from boarding school. The atmosphere on the floor would be electric and there might be extra entertainment outside as to the choice of partner! There were always a sideshow in the old days!

ADAMSTOWN BALLROOM today.

Promoter Danny Doyle reckons that “60% of the people in Wexford met their husband or wife in Adamstown Ballroom.” The ceilí dance in the parish hall or dancing at the crossroads were the only form of rural entertainment at the time and most were tied in with festive occasions like the patron or fraughan day so it is little surprise that the spacious ballroom and the growing popularity of the showbands would take the country by storm.

Adamstown Show Society was founded in 1947 and one of its aims was to build a hall, so a 12-person committee was put in place to fundraise and oversee the construction and on May 1st, 1955 Adamstown Ballroom opened its doors for the first to celebrate that year’s Show Dance. It was named St. Abban’s Hall after the local patron saint.

The heyday of Adamstown Ballroom was from the end of the 1960s into the 1980s and for couples of a certain generation this place was their ‘Ballroom of Romance’. A meeting place ideally located in the centre of rural Wexford.

Passing Adamstown Ballroom brings back a flood of memories of thousands of happy dancers enjoying themselves with the biggest showbands in the business setting the walls alive with the sound of music until 2 in the morning. You can almost still hear the band playing! A bag of chips from Booth’s little shop next door and off home to begin work a few hours later on Monday morning!

AUDIO ADDITION – JOHNNY CARROLL and his trumpet always captured the ballroom mood.

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