This year the Ballyduff Upper traditional show celebrated its 16th year with a visit from BBC TV Northern Ireland when their presenter, Michael McGarrigle filmed a selection from the opening night and what a wonderful show it was. A powerhouse traditional band led by ace box player Tony Dunne delivered a programme of soft airs, floating dance tunes, lilting dance numbers and rousing wild attacking, batter the floor music.
With a cast of about seventy people, this is a marvelous community effort celebrating and keeping alive a memory of a very traditional way of life. The location is picturesque in the Blackwater Valley and the hall is tiered like an arena theatre. The welcome is real and genuine with tea and cake for early arrivals and the show is old-time friendly with a professional delivery that will leave you shouting for more.
A six piece band has Gerry McKee on bazouki as he drives the rhythm with modern glasses perched on his shaven head. David Hyland laid down a fine bodhran beat as tiny tot dancers weave a spell and make way for older dancers and still older set dancers who move from traditional pace to wild abandon.
The famous seanachai (or storyteller) James Lenane set the scene with a memorable recitation Fogarty’s Thrashing as Luke Hitchman and Grainne Kearney delighted in dance.
Devrore Scanlon from Co. Limerick sang Isle of Hope / Isle of Tears to fine accordion accompaniment and her version of I’ll Forgive Him and My Cavan Girl were highlights of a memorable entertainment.
Aine Fitzpatrick was excellent on flute and tin whistle and a duet with an unnamed and beautiful pregnant girl was a gem. Another highlight was the difficult Brush Dance devised by Ciara Dunne and danced with such style and accuracy by Emma Daly, Niall Ahearne, James Daly and Sharon Houlihan.
I loved the pace and flow of the show as dancers of all ages shone in a selection of styles and tunes. People just wove a spell as the stage emerged into an almost hypnotic rhythm of music and dance. The adult set dancers impressed and the evening worked up to a powerhouse of wild abandon.
The Booley House runs at 8.15 p.m. every Wednesday night of July and August. Booking at 058-60456 (2 pm to 8 pm) and at €15 including early tea and cake, it is a giveaway and a vanishing slice of Riverdance entertaining.