Whilst the 1950’s were a pretty grim affair for most teenagers in Ireland, something dangerously exciting was being transmitted from the wireless via Radio Luxembourg - Rock n’ Roll!
Suddenly bands of Irish young men were getting together to cover these new hip shakin’ tunes, and thus, the Show Bands were born.
Dance-halls and Ballrooms popped up all over Ireland and teenagers flocked to them on foot or bike (no supped up micras in those days) with the hope of romance and the scent of Brylcreem (The Lynx Africa of their day) wafting behind them.
The Gleneagle Hotel didn’t waste any time and in 1962 opened The Ballroom. All the big names on the Show Band circuit appeared in The Ballroom, ensuring a maximum capacity crowd each night - boys lined up on one side, girls on the other, sipping on minerals (no Jägerbombs back then) , with the girls praying that the magic question “Are you dancing?” would be asked by a handsome young Teddy Boy, not Paddy the 50+ Bachelor Farmer! Romance certainly blossomed; with almost half the families in Killarney having their origins in a wistful glance across the Ballroom dance floor.
The Gleneagle Hotel was truly unique in that not only did it offer the starry Show Band experience to locals , but it also provided a room for visitors...the start of the package holiday.
It was young, glamorous and above all promised fun...it even had it’s own fleet of Red and White Branded Volkswagen vans to ferry guests to and from the bustling train station! It wasn’t just a jam packed nightly summer Cabaret that was on offer - Pitch & Putt, Squash and Tennis were popular daytime on-site pursuits. We’re pretty sure that if Don Draper was gonna holiday in the emerald isle he’d have checked into our reception!
Our guests have grown up with the hotel - couples who fell in the love on the dance-floor of the Ballroom returned with their young families down through the years and now in their blissful retirement are visiting us throughout the year on specialist hobby breaks. For our returning visitors, when you walk through our doors, it’s like coming home (and just like your mammy we’ll make the bed and feed you well!)
Whilst a lot has changed since we opened in 1957 (our headline acts now perform in our 3,500 capacity INEC) our youthful attitude and sense of mischief making hasn’t changed a bit! The only thing we take seriously is having fun!