Pontoon Ballroom, Pontoon, Co. Mayo
If ever a ballroom was built in the middle
of nowhere, Pontoon was it (or at least one of them). Located about four miles
the town of Foxford, along the shores of Lough Cullin, it was a picturesque
location. It also almost didn't happen as there
were strong objections from many (especially the owners of the local hotels)
that the ballroom would ruin the peace
and tranquillity of the area, The ballroom, which was completed in early
1962 was twice denied a dancing license before finally
getting the license later in the year. The eventual secret to its long running
success was being placed mid way
between the larger towns of Castlebar (nine miles) and Ballina (ten miles) which
assured its success. Pontoon opened its doors on
August 5th, 1962 to the sounds of the Platters Showband (soon to become
the Plattermen). The ballroom, which cost £18,000 to build,
was owned by Brendan Kelly of Foxford and Eugene Maguire of Ballina and was soon
the crown jewel of Mayo dancing.
Although most ballrooms of the era had 4500 sq ft dance floors, Pontoon boasted
a 7500 sq ft floor. Entrance price was 10/-.
For the next 20 years, the ballroom was the mecca for dancing in western Mayo.
Only the Royal Ballroom in Castlebar could
challenge it for popularity. By 1982, Pontoon had decided to play mostly country
bands, but the writing was on the wall.
The last band we can find playing the ballroom was Tweed on Saturday, September
3rd, 1983. We can't be sure if this was the last
dance, but if not there weren't many more. By 1986, the ballroom was for sale,
the hopes were it might be used as a cash and carry
(like many other ballrooms had been) but with a guide price of £52,000 and a
location "out in the middle of nowhere" there were no takers.
By 1991, the ballroom lay in ruins and became an eyesore in the otherwise
beautiful area in which it was located and
in December 1994, the Mayo County Council took possession of the ballroom and
demolished it. Sadly, not even a gateway or
slab remain, but we were able to located its exact location using two
electricity poles which still stand (see below).