Three Kilkenny stories featured in new book on dancehall days

‘From The Candy Store to the Galtymore’

Sean Keane


Sean Keane


‘From The Candy Store to the Galtymore’

Co-editor of ‘From The Candy Store to the Galtymore’, Dr Joe Kearney from Callan with his wife Anne at the launch of the book

Three people with strong Kilkenny connections figure prominently in a new book recalling the halcyon days of the showband era.

‘From The Candy Store to the Galtymore’ chronicles the late 1950s to the 1970s in rural and urban Ireland through the stories of the young men and women who religiously went to their local Ballroom of Romance each weekend.

The book echoes an era of social and cultural uprising in Ireland as the country began dancing the weekends away to the sounds of showbands in newly-built ballrooms.

It was the time of Larry Cunningham, Joe Dolan, Brendan Bowyer, Dickie Rock and Butch Moore and wherever they played, the crowds followed.

Joe Kearney, who co-edited the book, is a native of Callan and highlights the first night himself and a few ‘cool friends’ brought  flower-power into the town’s night life.

Brigid Daly is originally from Crutt, Castlecomer but now lives on a farm in Kanturk. Her story reveals how a chance meeting at a group outing to the Rose of Tralee led to the Kilkenny girl marrying into Cork colours in the most romantic of ways.

Brought up across from the ballroom in Callan, Elaine Bryan has served a postmistress there for a quarter of a century. Her parents’ house was a stopover place for the stars – from Tina to Aonghus McAnally – as they possessed the nearest phone and facilities for wardrobe changes.

Queen of Country and Irish Margo O’Donnell, writes a harrowing account of how she met a down-and-out before a show in London and became great friends with him as he battled against drink before his death. It is a story of sadness but full also of pride in how he turned his life around to die a proud man.

The book, which is dedicated to music man extraordinaire, Ricey Scully, also contains two hilarious stories rolled into one by the former Twiggs and Crackaways member concerning The Singing Nun and U2.

Co-editors PJ Cunningham and Dr Joe Kearney trawled the country over the past year to bring Ireland’s showband stories together in one book. In all, there are 70  contributions contained in this social and cultural review of the time.

"From The Candy Store To The Galtymore is a collection with twists in every turn – stories of romance, of chance meetings and tales that are funny and maybe even mischievous,”  PJ said.