Stories from the Past by Moyvane Locals

written as part of the Community I.T. Access Tarbert Over 55’s Programme 2006

Growing up in Ballybunion
by Noreen O’ Connell

I grew up in Ballybunion; I was a teenager in the 60’s when the unit of currency was pounds shillings and pence. At that time it was a small village with just one housing estate, very few new houses were built, nowadays there are several new estates, new houses are constantly been built on all roads converging into Ballybunion.

I went to school to the convent. The Mercy nuns taught us. Their convent and Chapel were close by. Unfortunately because of decline in vocations. The convent and Chapel were sold and those buildings are now converted into a block of apartments.

Ballybunion was always blessed with 2 lovely long golden sandy beaches, the ladies and men strand as they were more commonly known. There were 6 “Bathing Boxes” located in the men’s strand, they comprised of 6 wooden units which you could hire to undress and the caretaker would look after your interests while you were swimming. That facility no longer exists. The ladies strand is home to the world’s famous seaweed baths, years ago seaweed baths were mainly used by older people to ease aches and pains, nowadays they are attributed to healing anything from rheumatism to a hangover.

There were 3 churches in Ballybunion. St Johns is the parish church. Doon church is no longer in use and the protestant church now serves as a library.

The main night attraction was the Central Ballroom, situated where the Golf Hotel now stands. Maurice Mulcahy Orchestra played for the season and today everyone still agrees they were absolutely fantastic, they were a 12 man band all dressed alike in blue suits, they played from 9pm to 1am. Holiday makers and people from parishes from miles away found their way to Ballybunion to dance in the Central. Thousands passed through the doors during its lifespan. In those days the men stood at one side of the hall, the ladies at the other, at the start of each dance the men would rush across the floor to ask the lady of his choice to dance, we ladies often prayed we not be left wallflowers for the night. Of course there was always one ladies choice where the ladies could invite the men to dance. During the height of the season the Central would be thronged, the music been fantastic, the atmosphere was brilliant. Many have romantic memories of the Central as it was there many met their husbands and wives; it could have been called the ballroom of romance. Frank Snaps were always busy taking photos the proofs were available the following day. Mini skirts and spindle heels were fashionable at the time.

Many changes have taken place down the years, a new state of the art Tinteán theatre and a heritage museum have opened. An ultra modern children’s playground opened in Cliff road. Planning permission has been granted for a new hotel and for a block of apartments. Certain things will never change, the Atlantic waves will still ebb and flow, the Virgin rock and the Nine Daughters Hole will always be tourist attractions and for many years to come the structure of the castle will stand in the midst of the castle green.

The Moyvane Wrenboys 1956 to 1976
by Maurice O’ Connell

The group were reformed in 1956 the year Ronnie Delaney won the Olympics in Melbourne. On St Stephans Day we played in the local towns of Athea, Glin, Foynes, Ballyhahill, Loughill, Ballylongford, Tarbert, Knocknure, Moyvane and Listowel. We were invited by the late John B Keane to the All Ireland Wrenboys in 1960. Moyvane got a new Curate in 1964. New people joined the Group.

Side Flute Players: John Kirby, Myles Thornton, Donie Lyons, Jimmy Mulvihill aand Moss Cunningham.
Dancers: Jonnie Enright, Phil Kennelly, Kathleen Kennelly, N. Murphy.
Tambourine Players: Jimmy Kirby, John Joe Stackpool, M. J. Flaherty, Tom Scanlon, Billy Berkery, John Dore, Brendan Carroll and Timmy Buckley.
Singers: Sean Ahern, Eddie Cunningham, Eileen Managher, The Beglay Sisters and Philip Enright.
Musicians: Paddy Fitzmaurice, Joe Burke, The Flahertys, Gaberial Fitzmaurice, the late Paddy Flaherty, Tom Foley and the late Mikey Stack.
Dancers: Celine Hession, M.Cahill
Make-up: A.N. Kennelly, M. Long, Kit Horan
Pike and Diesel: Din and Tom Hanrahan, and the late John Kearney.
Producers: Fr. Tom. Hickey and Fr. Pat Ahern
The Ugly Sisters: The late Bill Horan, Maurice O’ Connell and Eamon Sweeney.
King of The Group: Din Hanrahan.

Dan Keane was a Wrenboy in 1965 and a Judge in 1966. There are other peoples names I cant remember at this time, but if you contact me I will include them in my next piece.