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Central Ballroom, Ballybunion, Co. Kerry

On June 29th, 1956, Matt Sullivan opened the the doors of his Central Ballroom in "Ballybunion by the Sea" with the voice of
famous Irish tenor Josef Locke, along with sounds Pete Roxburgh and his 12 piece band, who would also be the resident band for the
summer season (which is the way it used to work in those days). Matt already owned the nearby Central Hotel and he had
big plans for the hotel, the ballroom and the town. By all accounts, the opening was spectacular with over 10,000 people showing up in town.
 For the first few years the ballroom ran music nearly every night in July and August and then during the off season hosted dances
by all types of organisations. Ballybunion was growing and like many of his counterparts across Ireland, Matt was ahead of the game.
After nearly 12 years in business, the Central was ready to grow again and in September, 1967, the "old" ballroom was
demolished to make way for the "new" Central Ballroom which would encompass 24,000 sq. ft. making it one of the largest
in the country. The hall was equipped with a unique "moving wall" which could reduce the size of the ballroom by 30%, giving
the impression the hall was always packed. By this time Matt's son, Kenneth was now the Managing Director of the company.
The new Central opened on May 23rd, 1`968 with John B. Keane and the Maurice Mulcahy Orchestra.
Within four years the hotel and ballroom had new directors including John Byrne (Dublin), brothers Tom and Billy Clifford and
Denis Foley (all from Tralee). In the 1972 new ballroom and hotel were opened with even more expansion and amenities,
including a tunnel from the hotel bar to the ballroom so patrons would not be exposed to the elements. The new ballroom, singing lounge
combination opened Whit Saturday with Joe Dolan and the Drifters followed Whit Sunday by the Maurice Mulcahy Orchestra. The ballroom would
continue running dances and drawing crowds into the 1980's but by that time was only running during the summer season. The summer of 1983
appears to be the last summer the Central ran dances and afterwards was lying idle. This situation would last until local residents
got together to purchase the ballroom and it reopened (yet again), as the Ballybunion Community Centre. Although the
Community Centre had had some tough times (needing massive funding in the mid 1990's to refurbish the aging ballroom) it continues
to serve the people of Ballybunion, hosting over 20 organisations within its wall.        

 

   


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