Sometimes the story of a ballroom after it
closes is more interesting than its time as a dancehall.
As we have researched the ballrooms of the era in order to provide detailed
accounts of their story, we have found often local
communities struggled with what was to become of their beloved dancehall.
The story of the Fiesta Ballroom
starts on October 5th, 1962 when it first opened its doors to the sounds of the
The ballroom was owned by the Keeney family with brothers Leo and Conal up front
but everyone was involved. From the opening night
and for most of the next two decades, the ballroom was home to the finest
entertainment including all the top showbands and
stars like Val Doonican who drew the record crowd of 2,725 patrons (the Royal
held the showband record of 2,665 in 1963). Over the
next 17 years, most of the Keeneys lost interest in the band business with only
Leo left in the end. Sadly, the Fiesta closed its doors
for the last time as a dance hall on February 29th, 1979 to the sounds of Susan
McCann and the Storytellers. (see below). The
following week, Leo opened the Fiesta Club in the Ballyraine Hotel in
Letterkenny with the Apaches, keeping the name alive.
Following the closing of the ballroom, it was sold to Dunne's stores, who never
developed it, deciding instead to purchase the local Bests
stores (as they did around the country). The ballroom was leased by the Keeneys
who ran a roller rink for the next two years, but
it never took off. During the 1980's the ballroom played host to everything from
Garden Fetes to festivals but it was beginning to deteriorate
and in 1990 the ballroom was put up for sale again (see below). In 1997, it was
rumoured that the ballroom was to become a hostel, but
apparently this did not happen. In 2000, the ballroom was up for sale yet again
(a familiar story with ballrooms across the country).
In 2007, Pat and Basil Kyle requested permission to demolish the old ballroom to
build a new electrical and plumbing
showroom. This was denied based on objections from the local residents and they
eventually moved into the ballroom which
still stands today.
In the end, the story of the Fiesta, like so
many others is not just about the building itself, but the community
it serves and their dedication to maintaining such an important part of local
history. In 2022, the Fiesta (and many of the other
ballrooms which still stand will be 60 years old and those that are still
standing are still serving their local communities in
ways their original owners never imagined.