The Laurel Ballroom Bofield by James Reddiough
This ballroom was one of the many halls dotted around the county Mayo in rural areas when there was a much larger population in the countryside and people were very fond of dancing and had danced in the house and at the crossroads also in the case of the area here Bofield Hall or the Bofield Gaelic Club Room that first opened on the 17th March 1928. The Bofield ballroom was sold in March 1942 by Johnny Mulherin of Attymass and it had been rented for 3/2 per annum on an acre of land. It measured 65 feet by 25 and had a corrugated iron roof with stone and mortar on the walls. There were lavatories and cloakrooms and a supper room in the hall.
The Laurel opened on the 25th December 1938. Jerry Corcoran played there with his five piece band and it was 2s to get in and dances would be held there for the next fourteen years. The dancing was from 8 -12 in accordance with the regulations pertaining to granting a licence for dancing in Public places first enacted in 1935 by the Government to regularise the dancing industry.
Dances were held there during the 1940’s and during the harsh years of World War two or the Emergency as it was called, and there was an Old Time Waltzing competition held there in 1942 and during those years. There was a two act comedy and variety concert held in the Laurel in early June 1945 and it was 2s to get in and there was a dance after the concert. These concerts were held during Lent and indeed regularly during the year to raise funds for parish associations and projects with a dance held after the concert – these concerts were called variety concerts and there was a play staged by the local drama group or else by a vising group.
The Laurel Ballroom was located in Carracrom at Bofield Cross. Dances were held on the Sunday night and generally ran from 8pm to 12am and there were all – night dances that ran from 9pm to 2am. The Laurel was owned by the Loftus family who lived in a cottage at Bofield Cross just across the road from where the Ballroom was located. Both James Loftus and his sons were talented musicians and they played under the name The Humming Bird. They formed the band in the early 1950’s and played in the hall.
It proved a popular dance venue with buses bringing crowds from surrounding areas. Bands from Castlebar also played there. When funds were needed for the restoration of the curates residence in Bonniconlon in the early 1950’s a concert was held in the ballroom. The entertainment consisted of music, song dance and drama. There was a dancing troupe from Ballina while the Bonniconlon Dramatic society performed After Hours and Swan Song which were both well received. Along with the Old Time waltzing competition the variety concert was held regularly in the Laurel to raise funds for different associations in the parish and the general area. Ballina Boxing club held a boxing tournament in the Laurel in February 1942 and it was very successful according the report in the Western People.
The Hall closed in the early 1950’s around 1955 and was demolished in 1990. The bands that played in the Grove included Jerry Corcoran, Tommy Jordan, Jimmy McCaffery and Dick Prendergast and other bands in Ballina that played there were The Danny Hill Orchestra, The Mocking Bird and Jimmy Jordan a 5 – piece all girls’ band also played there a few times they were the Tina O’ Malley band and coming near the end of the dance hall years the Loftus family formed a four piece dance band consisting of the Loftus Brothers and their cousin they had the accordion, the fiddle and drums. The hall could hold 400 – 450 persons on a good night and it is believed that it closed in the early 1950’s and this is shown by the fact that there were dances held there in September 1952 and there was a concert held there in the late 1950’s also but no ceilis were held there it was all ballroom dancing with the fox trot, quick step and old time waltz..