The Maple Hall, Balla in Co. Mayo
The Maple Hall, Balla was one of the leading dance halls in the West of Ireland throughout the 20th century. In the past few years it has been demolished and replaced by a fine Community Resource Centre.
Prior to the erection of the present Catholic Church it served as the local parish church. A Father Nolan had built a church here in 1806 on a site consisting of a plot of ground donated by Lynch-Blosse. The church was de-consecrated in 1918 on the completion of the present church.
In 1920 it was converted to a dance hall and unlike most other areas had electricity supplied by a generator owned by the McEllin family. Jimmy Roughneen and Willie Murphy laid the fine maple floor in 1926. In the early years it was the venue for grand Hunt Balls drawing people from as far away as Dublin. These balls were elite affairs, the first one had a cover charge of one Guinea (a considerable amount of money in those times). These balls however were not continued and the hall went on to be used for ceilis, dramas, and concerts, card games etc. The play 'An Cailin Ban' was staged here in 1936.
The hall was upgraded in the 1940’s under a parish committee consisting of L Conway, T J Mc Walter, P Duffy, B Costello and F Blanchfield. Many radio personalities performed here such as Din Joe, Paddy Crosbie, and during the 60’s and 70’s well-known dance bands drew large crowds from all around. Drama was always associated with the Maple Hall especially in the fifties and sixties and during Lent the local drama group hosted a drama festival.
In 1991 it was decided to build a community centre and the task of fundraising and planning the hall commenced. The last dance was held in the on Friday April 26th 1996. The Brose Walshe Band provided the entertainment for a packed audience. The hall was demolished the following November to make way for the present day Community Resource Centre.
By Brian Hoban