Bird on a Wire
Andy Griffin takes a trip back to his roots
Andy Griffin follows listowelconnection from his home in England. Recently he made a trip to Listowel, Ballybunion and Dingle with his dad and his children. For dad it was a trip down memory lane. Daniel Griffin, now in his seventies, grew up in Convent Street. For the young people it was a chance to get acquainted with their Irish heritage. Andy sent us some of their holiday snaps.
This premises at the junction of William Street and O'Connell's Avenue was once The Las Vegas Ballroom
Jim Reeves in The Las Vegas, Listowel
Last week I brought you Jim Sheahan's memories of his time as a musician in The Las Vegas Ballroom, Listowel. He told me about a phenomenon called All Night Dances which drew huge crowds and went on until 3.00a.m. Sometimes these nights had a huge star as the main attraction. Bridie Gallagher of The Boys from the County Armagh fame came.
Mary O'Rourke, formerly of Church St. wrote to say that she thought that Jim Reeves had played there. She did a bit of research and she found that, sure enough, on Sunday June 2 1963 the great Jim Reeves played for a full hour from 10.00 to 11.00.
Incidentally her source, Jim Reeves, The Untold Story, reveals that, after he had finished his gig in Listowel, he was driven to The Majestic in Mallow for his next gig, appearing on stage at 12.30 a.m.
For those of you interested in learning more about this country singer's time in Ireland, I found the following in the Mayo News blog from 2010;
NEARLY 50 years on, the Jim Reeves tour of Ireland in 1963 still has the power to rekindle old memories. As I reported last August, a new 26 page booklet by James Reddiough from Attymass takes a look-back at that nostalgic time and commits to print memories and reflections of a tour that captured the headlines way back then. The booklet, ‘Jim Reeves Tour of Ireland 1963’, was launched on Monday night last, September 27, in the Welcome Inn, Castlebar.
Reeves was one of the true superstars of the era. The velvet tones of the tall Texan filled the airwaves on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Here in Ireland, his songs held magnetic appeal. He played a huge role in cultivating the roots of country music among the Irish nation.
A year after his visit to Ireland, Jim Reeves died in a plane crash south of Nashville on July 31,1964. News of his passing made front page news around the globe. The singer was in the prime of his career with a string of No 1 hits in the American and UK charts.
As with Buddy Holly and others, his early and tragic death added even further to his iconic status. His classic country songs still cast a spell and retain a timeless appeal, especially in Ireland where he was always huge.
Jim’s first Irish date was in Drumkeen, Co Limerick on May 30. It was after a show in the Atlantic Ballroom in Tramore that he made the long journey from the south east across Ireland to Kiltimagh. That probably contributed to the moody form that led to his non-appearance on stage in the Mayo town.
What happened or did not happen in Kiltimagh on the night of June 6, 1963, can still generate plenty of talk. Journalist James Morrissey, a native of Kiltimagh who has resided in Dublin for many years, recalled the event in ‘The Swinging Sixties’, which was edited by John Coughlan, the founder of Spotlight magazine. “I can well remember the night Jim Reeves did not play in Kiltimagh. A crowd of us - trousered schoolboys congregated outside The Diamond Ballroom, waiting for the singing legend to arrive. Not since Walt Disney visited the town, at the invitation of a local businessman, had there been such a fuss about a stage or screen personality in the town.
“Car loads of couples arrived from all over the towns around and how we envied their adult status to have been able to gain admission for ten shillings. As it transpired we were not the only ones to be disappointed because Jim Reeves never performed in Kiltimagh. He claimed the piano was not properly tuned.”
Leo Diamond Jnr, son of the late Leo who owned the hall at the time, is quoted thus: “I understand that he was not aware that he had to do two shows that night it seems. He threw a tantrum when he found out he was down to perform at another show 40 miles away in Sligo. He came in the back door of the hall and didn’t stay long. He refused to do the two shows. Jack Higgins shot down the hall and said to Leo …‘he’s gone’.”
Today's Racing Memory
This one was shared on Facebook by Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine
Flashback to Listowel Races 1982: presentation to the Keane family of Ballylongford after their horse 'Yer Man' had won the Central Hotel Handicap. Pictured are Val O'Connell (jockey), Noel Keane, Kissane Keane, Carmel Keane (nee Kissane, Lacca), John Byrne, Andrew McNamara (trainer) and Michael Keane (NT, Listowel).
Jerry Hannon; Horse Racing Commentator
Photo and text from Goracing.ie website