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The Rainbow Ballroom

Ireland’s famous Rainbow Ballroom of Romance is situated in Glenfarne, Co Leitrim at a crossroads in the townland of Brockagh lower . The late John Mc Givern built the Ballroom in early 1934 and it opened the same year.
The Dance Hall went from strength to strength over the next two decades and in 1952 John Mc Givern decided to extend it. With the increasing prevalence of electricity and piped water the facilities were upgraded, serving to make the Ballroom more attractive and modern, with large numbers of dancers coming from all over the country. The renovations were completed in 1954 and saw John Mc Givern rename the Dance Hall as the Rainbow Ballroom of Romance, the title it holds to this day. The inception of this name came from John’s introduction at dances of the “romantic interlude”, a fifteen minute period where he would join the band on stage dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black bow tie, to sing romantic songs. In between verses of these songs John would ask the dancing couples to get to know each other (if they had not done so already) by shaking hands, exchanging greetings, etc. Spot prizes were also awarded to lucky couples. Also during the “romantic interlude” the hall lights would be dimmed and the men folk would be encouraged to take their lady friends to the bar for a cup of tea or a mineral (no alcohol in those days) before the end of the dance.
It is believed that a lot of happy marriages resulted from such meetings, hence the addition of “The Ballroom of Romance” to the name of the hall. During the great years of the Showband era from the mid fifties to the early eighties all top bands played in the Rainbow. Bands such as Hugh Toorish and the famous Clipper Carlton from Strabane were regular performers on the Rainbow stage. In fact it was the Clippers (as they were popularly known) that introduced the Showband scene. Other bands to come regularly to the Rainbow included Brendan Bowyer and the Royal, Dickie Rock and the Miami, Joe Mc Carthy and the Dixies, Seán Fagan, Sonny Knowles and the Pacific. the Royal Blues and Doc Carroll, The Black Aces, Maurice Mulcahy Band, Eileen Reid, Gay Mc Intyre from Derry, Big Tom and the Mainliners, Susan Mc Cann, Philomena Begley, Joe Dolan, Brian Coll and the Buckaroos, Larry Cunningham and The Mighty Avons and hundreds more, as at that time it was recorded that there were more than six hundred show bands operating in Ireland. One of the most popular bands with the Rainbow dance patrons was the great Melody Aces from Newtownstewart, which featured singers David Coyle and Shay Hutchinson. There were no dances held in the Rainbow or any other hall in the diocese of Kilmore during the seven weeks of Lent - except on Saint Patrick’s night. This was a rule by the clergy of the diocese. During these weeks of no dancing John would organise concerts and other types of entertainment. Local bands also played in the Rainbow, such as the Breffni Dance Band from Glenfarne

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