A new furniture store on the site of the Oyster Ballroom in Dromkeen is powering ahead
BERNARD Keogh vowed to rebuild the iconic Oyster Ballroom after it was destroyed by a fire in August 2015 - and he has been as good as his word.
Motorists forced to slow down on the N24 due to the speed limit in Dromkeen have seen his furniture business rise from the ashes.
While there hasn’t been a dance or concert held in the old ballroom of romance for decades it still holds a special place in the hearts of countless men and women as it is where they met their husband and wife.
Dozens upon dozens drove out after the fire to see the site and reminisce about their halcyon days inside.
Bernard said that the project is ahead of schedule and he aims to open the new Furniture Man this coming April.
“It is going well. The steel is up, the downstairs floor was poured last week and the second floor is going in as we speak.
“We are ahead of schedule building-wise due to October being as mild as it was,” said Bernard this Monday afternoon.
“That will be the extent building-wise up to Christmas. It is like precast concrete, you drop it in blocks – it is like Lego. It is incredible.
“We expect to be opening the doors around early April. It is like the light at the end of the tunnel,” he adds.
In typical black Irish humour Bernard can even joke that the building is now “completely fireproof!”.
After the blaze that engulfed the building and an estimated half a million euros worth of stock inside, Bernard stressed that the most important thing was nobody was hurt and they would rebuild.
Seeing the structure come to life has brought a buzz to the area.
“When you meet the local people they are excited about it . They are all happy to see it going back up.
“We are seeing it even in the small shop we are operating from across the road - they are coming in and they are talking about it,” said Bernard, who can’t wait to have more space for his staff and merchandise.
“It is a long time since August of last year. Patience is not something I was born with it is something I am after learning!” he smiled.
Dozens of jobs have been created during the construction phase with a staff of upto 10 when Furniture Man – a business he built up with his brother, John – is fully operational.
And, of course, they will honour the history and legacy of the iconic dance hall, started by the visionary Pakie Hayes, by erecting a memorial plaque in pride of place in the new Furniture Man store.