Bittersweet occasion for special Dromkeen concert on Sunday

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

In one of the last photographs taken at the former Oyster Ballroom, Brendan Bowyer, his daughter Aisling, Pat Fogarty, John Barrett enjoy reading a recent Limerick Leader story about Sunday nights nostalgic concert in Cappamore. Picture: Declan Hehir
IN THE BEST traditions of the entertainment business, the show must go on – and that is what the organiser of a Rolling Back the Dromkeen Years concert is doing this weekend.

IN THE BEST traditions of the entertainment business, the show must go on – and that is what the organiser of a Rolling Back the Dromkeen Years concert is doing this weekend.

When John Barrett decided to plan the night, featuring the great Brendan Bowyer, he had no idea just how significant it would become. It takes place in Cappamore Community Centre on Sunday, August 30. Doors open at 7.15pm with the age-defying Brendan Bowyer due to take the stage at 8.15pm.

“We wanted to relive the halcyon days of the Oyster Ballroom,” said John, at the first announcement of the gig. Those sentiments have been amplified after the former largest ballroom in the south burnt to the ground two weekends ago.

Only days before the blaze, John invited Brendan Bowyer, his daughter Aisling and Tommy Ryan and Pat Fogarty, of Cappamore Development Association, to Dromkeen for a photo shoot. The pictures taken by Declan Hehir must be some of the last ever taken before the fire.

“It will not only be a night of great nostalgia but also a bittersweet occasion with the demise of the former Oyster Ballroom,” said John.

During the visit they met Bernard Keogh, whose Furniture Man business was located in the building.

“He told us that hardly a day went by without customers recalling their dancing days in the Oyster Ballroom. Many had met their wife or first girlfriend at a dance in the famous venue.

“Bernard also spoke of his plans to remember those days by having framed prints of the old showband business cards mounted on the walls of the premises,” said John. Bernard is back open for business across the road. He told the Leader last week that he will rebuild on the site and aims to be open for May and June in 2016.

Brendan Bowyer will be joined by his daughter Aisling and a superb band which, incidentally, is led by Jim Hanley, a native of Cappamore.

Brendan Bowyer, who was one of many stars to fill the dance hall to capacity in the 1960s, said: “It was so sad to learn of the fire but the memories live on, even though the building may be gone.”

It won’t just be a stroll down memory lane for the crowd, it will be the same for the man singing. “It was just amazing – the bus loads that came out from Limerick and everywhere that filled the car-park,” said Brendan.

Ticket sales have been brisk – before and after the electrical fault that caused the fire. The show has got a big reaction in East Limerick and Tommy Ryan, of Cappamore Development Association, is looking forward to Sunday night.

“Brendan Bowyer was huge all around here and local people are looking forward to a great concert,” said Tommy.

It won’t be the Oyster, but the next best thing will be the large community centre with its modern sound and lightning system. The stage can’t be wheeled forwards and backwards depending on the size of the crowd like in Dromkeen, but if members of the audience close their eyes they will be transported back to the Oyster Ballroom.

Tickets will be available on Sunday from 7.15pm. Contact 087 6123334 for more information.