Social Dancing with Declan Flanagan

First is the sad news that my good friend Bobby Jackman has decided to retire from the social dance scene due to personal reasons.  
Bobby, as I’m sure most of you know has been running dances in the south east for the last 10 years. Born in Windgap Co. Kilkenny but spending the last 25 years in Callan, he was larger than life itself. This colourful character was everything Irish social dancing epitomised. He was always there at the door to meet you and always had a word for everyone. When the taxi dance came on, it wasn’t a chair in the centre to mark the spot where you teamed up with your next dance partner, but it was Bobby, adding a bit of that personal touch that made it all that more enjoyable. Indeed he told me that sometimes he’d stand back and look out over all the people dancing and enjoying themselves and he’ll feel a buzz like nothing in this world could equal.
A bit like myself, he only started going to dances after he was separated. He was actually a plasterer by trade and had signed up to help out with the Niall Mellon Trust to use his trade building houses for people who were a lot less fortunate than ourselves. It was necessary to raise €5,000 first and after seeing a fundraiser in the Dolmen going so well he decided to run a dance in the Springhill in Kilkenny. He asked Larry and Carmel of Checkers to play. The night was a great success raising over €4,000 and lots of the dancers who attended were so impressed that they asked Bobby to start running regular dances. It was the last thing on his mind, but decided to give it a go.
His first venture was in The Auld House, Killamery, a dance hall that was initially big in the 60’s but now closed for over 20 years. When Bobby opened the doors to his first dance there, it was like it never closed.
Next came the Ardattin Inn in Carlow. That was so successful that Bobby tried to stay clear of the more popular bands as you wouldn’t hardly get in the door when they played there.
Then 7 years ago he started up in the Rising Sun in Mullinavat. Again it was another great success story for Bobby and became one of the most well known dances in the south east.
But fittingly I suppose, it was in the Springhill Court, the place where Bobby Jackman started out, that he decided to call it a day on the regular social dance scene. News that was greeted with sadness by both the dancers who supported him  and the bands who played for him.
Bobby will continue running the 3 yearly dancing breaks in that venue, so if you want to pop up there sometime, you can be sure of that friendly handshake and that familiar smile that has greeted so any dancers over the last 10 years. 
I’d like to wish Bobby all the best in the future.
The 2nd change on the dance scene is the news that Kiltealy parish has decided to run two monthly dances as and from this month adding the 2nd Friday to the already existing  last Friday of the month. This decision (a brave one I might add!) was taken after  4-1 patrons voted in favour of the idea. 
The hall itself was built in 1949, a turbulent period in our history just after W.W. 2. The unusual square patterned maple floor was laid by a local master carpenter called Johnny Byrne. Ironically enough, in 2009, another turbulent period in our history when again the few bob was scarce, that the parish dances started back up in the hall. It has been one of the more successful parish dances in the county and many a dancer has tested out Johnny’s floor since then.
The parish needs to raise money for improvements to the hall, (which is a credit to all involved I must say,) and they don’t want to be annoying people with tickets, which as anyone involved in raising funds knows that story only too well. It will be, as far as I know, the only parish to go down this road of two monthly dances and I wish them all the success that hard working committee deserve. 
The Carnew Country Fest was a great success after with 1,200 attended the main night to Cliona Hagan and Lee Mathews so expect that to be a permanent feature on your Sept. calendar. Also well done to all involved in the Buffers Ally Shed Fest who ran a very successful night in June. Expect that to be bigger and better next year. 
Look out for the Willoughby’s weekend 19/20th Oct in the Ashdown Hotel Gorey featuring Derek Ryan among others but expect this to sell out so get your tickets now if you plan to go.
Here are the regular dance venues from around the south east.
Fri   5th October;   Askamore Community Hall & Camross Ballroom 
Fri   12th October;  IFA Centre Enniscorthy & Kiltealy.

Sun  14th October;  Oylgate Community Centre & Rahanna.

Fri   19th October;   Marshalstown Hall.
Sat 20th October;  Adamstown & Drumphea.
Fri 26th October;   Kiltealy.
On the regular dance scene The Talbot & The Oak Tree Foulksmills are on Sunday nights.
Harney’s Ballyedmond have weekly Sat/Sun dances.
The Ashdown Park Gorey & The Brandon House, New Ross are on Wednesday nights.
. Harney’s Ballyedmond & Ballykealy Manor are on Monday nights.
 The Woodford Dolmen & Murphy’s Tinahely are on Thursday nights.
The Ardattin Inn runs every Friday.
The Parkview House Shillelagh & The Rhu Glenn are every Saturday night.
(Give any of these venues a ring to see who’s playing.)

Well that’s all the news from me for the moment and I hope to see you all here, same time, same placeDeclan 🙂

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