By Mary Nolan

Up to the nineteen-fifties, house dances were the main form of socialising in rural Ireland. Certain houses in each locality would hold a dance once or twice a year. As well as the locals, people would often come from other parishes, either walking or on bicycles, to take part in the night’s entertainment.

Many people met their future husband or wife at these dances. This wasn’t surprising, as there weren’t a lot of other opportunities for young people to meet at the time. The music was supplied by a local musician, playing a fiddle or accordion, and the dancing went on until the early hours of the morning.

By nineteen-sixty house dances had died out and were replaced by ballroom dancing. During the nineteen-sixties dances were held in practically every hall in the country, big and small. The band usually started playing at ten o’clock and would continue until one or two in the morning.

There was no alcohol sold at the dance itself, but some of the men would go to the pub first and partake of a few drinks in order to build up a bit of Dutch courage.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own