Big Ridge Ballroom, Dromore, Co. Tyrone
On February 28th, 1955, the Montague Cinema
opened in the village of Dromore. It was a 4,000 sq. ft. building
with seating for 400 patrons to watch the films of the day on the first
widescreen in the area. Locals would enjoy The Robe
(made in Cinemascope) on the opening night. Edward Montague was the proprietor
and the cinema was an instant
hit with the people of the village. Like many small village cinemas and halls in
rural Ireland, the building would be multi-functional
hosting everything from meetings to dances. Eventually, Edward's son, Michael,
took over running the cinema and he started
to run more regular dances. By late 1973, the cinema was running regular dances
on Tuesday nights.
It went so well, Michael decided to take the big step of refurbishing the cinema
to become a modern ballroom.
The "new" Big Ridge Ballroom opened its doors to the public on March 16, 1974, a
to the ballroom scene which in some areas, was on the wane. Bill Ryan and
Buckshot were the first to play this "new" country venue,
followed by bands like Philomena Begley and her Ramblin' Men and Eileen King and
By this time, many bands had declared themselves as mainly pop or country and
the halls had started to follow suit. For eight years
the ballroom did well, but in 1982, things were going badly. On October 23rd,
1982 King Creole played the ballroom with the advert
announcing Colm Hughes would be appearing the following week (see below).
Instead, on October 30th it was announced the dancehall
was closed with no further dances, but to watch for upcoming discos, but they
On February 18, 1984, an advert in the Ulster Herald was offering the ballroom
to let for a warehouse, or other commercial use.
We can find no mention of the ballroom ever re-opening, although it has been
used for other purposes like
public auctions over the years. It appears now to be abandoned, a silent
reminder to a once proud era of entertainment.