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New Book Provides Window on an Era.....

John Baird, a regular contributor to our website, has completed a labour of love and probably one of the first books about a specific ballroom ever written in Ireland.

The Fiesta, Letterkenny chronicles the the people, the bands and the memories that made the popular ballroom a local institution and the focal point of social life for much of Donegal in the 60's and 70's. More importantly, it documents the critical role all the ballrooms played across Ireland in those heady days of the Showband Era.

Owned and operated by the popular Keeney family, the Fiesta opened its doors in 1962 to the sounds of one of the era's most famous bands, The Capitol. John was there that night and was a regular dancer in the Fiesta throughout the 1960's.   

The 107 page book tells the story of the ballroom, complete with over 100 black and white archival photographs and newspaper ads from the era. It tells the story of the people who worked, operated and performed in one of the finest ballrooms in the country. John goes into great depth to bring back the glory days of the dancehall and the Showband era.

The book was officially launched in Letterkenny's County Museum on Tuesday the 25th July at 3.30 pm. Hosted by museum curator Judith McCarthy and presided over by MC Billy Patterson, of The Pattersons fame, a gathering of over 200 guests listened to speeches by firstly the Mayor of Letterkenny, Cllr. Ciaran Brogan, the author, and lastly special guest and Bandleader of the Capitol Showband  Des Kelly who officially launched the publication. Capitol member Eamonn Monahan from Mountcharles also spoke . A large attendance of the well known Keeney family, who once owned and operated the ballroom were also present. Pictured at left: Eamonn Monahan, John Baird, Des Kelly and Paul Sweeney.

Many well known showband personalities of the past mingled with the large crowd and signed books as well as the author. Denis Eccles, Neil Doherty, Joe Doherty and Colm Smith from the Rhythm Boys, Art O'Hagan (Clipper Carlton), Paul Sweeney (Capitol), Hugh Mc Lean (Envoys and Mighty Avons), Patricia Walsh (Rascals), Evelyn (Envoys), Paddy Joe O'Donnell (Slieve Foy and Keynotes), Hughie Doherty  (Marines), Liam O'Neill (Vampires) and many more members from local bands. Well known showband fan and collector John Murphy travelled all the way from Macroom, Co. Cork, and Clipper Carlton fan Frankie Mc Kay, and Capitol fan Billy Vance swapped their experiences with other showband fans from this great era.

John wanted to sincerely thank The County Museum Staff for all their help and especially the local press and Higland Radio for their coverage of the launch which was hailed as a tremendous success. Pictured at right Paul Sweeney and Paddy Joe O'Donnell.

Priced at Euro 12.50 and with part of the proceeds of the sale being donated to The Cystic Fibrosis Assoc., the book, which is of a limited edition issue, will go on sale in local outlets immediately after the official launch.

The Fiesta is written and published by John Baird , design layout by Deirdre Ward and printed by The Donegal Printing Co. Pinehill Industrial Estate, Mountain Top, Letterkenny. Co. Donegal.

Our congratulations to John on his achievement and we wish him every success with the book.


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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006