Starlight Ballroom, Westport, Co. Mayo
In late 1967, Westport was introduced to its
new ballroom when John Healy applied for planning permission for the project
In January 1968, planning permission was given to John, owner of the Belclare
House Hotel in Westport to build a modern
ballroom at Carrowbeg on the Castlebar road. His Belclare Ballroom at the hotel
was already the major dance destination in
town, but his plan to build a ballroom coincided with his expansion to the
hotel, adding 100 rooms and converting the ballroom into
a games centre and pool. Due to setbacks, a required redesign and other issues,
the ballroom would not open until Friday,
February 21st, 1969 with a three band night that included Tony Chambers and his
band, the San-Antones, and Dickie Rock and the Miami.
The new ballroom boasted several unusual features including a revolving stage as
well as a unique
"night sky" ceiling which was lit with 2,000 fairy lights reported to have been
imported from Italy. For the next decade the Starlight
had the biggest names and crowds in the west of Mayo, including Roy Orbison's
appearance on April 9th, 1969.
In the mid-70's the Jennings Group (which already owned the Royal and Pontoon
ballrooms) purchased the Starlight from John Healy and continued the tradition
of having the biggest names on the scene.
However, by 1981, things had changed and the last dance was held on March 21,
1981 with Daddy Cool and the Lollipops.
A few weeks later, it was the ballroom was "closed for renovations" and then in
May, it was reported that the ballroom had been
purchased by a group of local businessmen for £135,000 and would no longer be
used as a ballroom and so ended the dance history of the Starlight.
For years the ballroom was the home of Westport Clothing Ltd. which changed its
name to Portwest Ltd and still owns the ballroom. (see below)
Our thanks to Michael Donnelly for writing to say that it was closed for years,
but is now HQ for Portwest, a company owned by the Hughes Family who make