New Book Provides Window on an
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
congratulations to John on his achievement and we wish him every
success with the book.