Journey to Dan Paddy's Hall
by Sonny Breen
'Tis a true saying, "you are only young once."
Most people have heard, read or seen something about Dan Paddy's Ballroom of Romance in Renagown. This particular hall is about seven miles from where I live in Cappa. Christmas Night and Lent was principally the time for Dan's. All other hall's were closed on these occasions. You would be looked upon as a very lukewarm Catholic going to dances those times, but some took a chance and went.
I recall one Christmas night a group of fifty left Cappa for Dan Paddy Andy's. Some of these had come home from foreign parts. It would not be a complete holiday without paying a visit to Dan's. To start the voyage, you had to travel about two miles of a rough wild mountain (no roads through the mountains those day's). Each person would take two pairs of shoes, the hills were no place for fancy shoes, when we got to the main road we would change our old attire. On our way we often met crowds from Kilflynn, Crotta and the surrounding areas, as well as boys and girls from the other side of the mountain.
Dan Paddy's hall was a simple structure: it consisted only of a dance hall, no cloakroom etc. The rafters held your belongings. The music was provided by local musicians. Dan himself was at the door receiving the admission fee. He often received less than the required amount. Extension dances were hitting the headlines at that time. To have an extension you had to supply a meal. One night Dan made an announcement, "An extension Dance here next Sunday night, dancing from 8 to 1, admission 1 shilling, meal served." The meal was hare soup and mixed pointers cooked by a local neighbour.
The weather was our main problem, there was no sound guide to the weather at that time. I recall one night on the way home being led astray by a lantern light. Thinking it to be a house we followed it until we found ourselves miles out of our way.
To conclude, as it approaches the Christmas festival, I wish on those friend's we met at Dan's and along the way who are still with us, God's blessings. To those who have made the final journey to the other side, eternal happiness.