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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 from
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).

 


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