Reliving Memories of the Galtymore

Over many years many Irish people, locally and all over Ireland, had to leave their families and friends to find a better life, and for many Britain offered that life. Most of those who chose Britain found themselves in the southeast, mainly around London, but many felt very alone, missing their homeland, friends and family.
Those who settled in London did so mainly in Kilburn and Cricklewood and for many the most tangible link with home was the Galtymore dance hall in Cricklewood.
It was a Mecca for the Irish in the English capital as it provided an opportunity to meet and socialise in a home from home setting with the music being invariably provided by bands from home.
Many who have now returned will have an opportunity to relive old times at a Galtymore Reunion which takes place in Deebert House Hotel, Kilmallock on Friday, 4th August, at 9pm.
Michael O’Connor is a Kerry native who for many years has been living in Hospital, Co. Limerick following a spell in London and he is one of those spearheading the reunion. He is a well known figure in the entertainment circuit through organising traditional sessions and rambling houses. “In my travels all over Munster, I have met people who like me danced and met their partner in the Galtymore. I just thought wouldn’t it be nice to try and get them all together. I spoke with the proprietors of Deebert House and they agreed to hold a Galtymore Reunion.
The Galtymore was opened in 1952 by a Kerryman, John Burns from Kilflynn between Tralee and Listowel and continued until 2008 when Big Tom was the last band to play there.
All the top bands in the halcyon days of the showband era played the Galtymore especially during Lent during which dance halls in Ireland were for the most part closed.
There were two ballrooms in the Galtymore, one for traditional Irish Céilí and the other for modern music and both used to be filled to capacity every weekend when the Irish in London let their hair down.
“It will give you an idea of the size of the place when in early 1967, the late Larry Cunningham and the Mighty Avons had the biggest crowd ever at the venue believed to be 6,850 patrons. The normal attendance was around three or four thousand but it was the time of Larry Cunningham’s big hit ‘A Tribute to Jim Reeves’,” Michael O’Connor explained. “It did not matter what county you came from north or south, Catholic or Protestant, once you were Irish you were welcome in the Galty.”
Michael O’Connor, like many others, met his wife (the former Peg Ryan from Old Pallas, Co. Limerick) in the Galtymore. “A group of us used to meet back in 1963 for a set every weekend and around 1964 Peg and I got together for the set and we have been setting since.”
Friday night promises to be a nostalgic night where very many will meet and exchange stories and tall tales of old times in the big smoke.
Music on the night will be by Peter Burke who has written and recorded a song about the Galtymore and a surprise guest on the night will be a musician who played in the Galtymore and whose name is synonymous with the venue.
There are some tickets still left for what promises to be a very special and memorable occasion and can be obtained by contacting Deebert House Hotel on 063-31200.