Inherited Community Spirit at the Heart of ‘Strictly Extravaganza’

Strictly Come Dancing Castleisland Rehearsals 2-6-2016
Look at that ! The Strictly Come Dancing troupe with choreographers and organisers at one of their final rehearsals at Castleisland Community Centre on Thursday night. Include, front from left are: Norma Nolan-Moran, Aileen Lynch, Castleisland Desmonds Ladies GAA Club; Denis Mahony, Michael Broderick, Karen Lynch, Castleisland Desmonds Ladies GAA Club and Sandra O’Connor. Second row from left: Siobhán Daly and Lezek Brozozka, Gladys Glennon and Eamon O’Connor, Betty O’Connell and Ciaran O’Callaghan, Juliette Fleming and Seán O’Connell, Eileen Greaney and Kevin Moran and Fiona Nelligan-McGuire, Assistant Dance Director. Third row: Ellen Barrett and Eddie Farmer, Shirley Higgins and Tom McCarthy, Mags Murphy-Lynch and Denis O’Donovan, Maura Healy Rae and Jason McCarthy. Back row from left: Willie Dom O’Connor, Castleisland Desmonds Ladies GAA Club; Willie Cotter and Sheila Costello, Mary Philpott, Dance Director; Claire Hally and Niall Mitchell and Pat Sheehan, Castleisland Desmonds Ladies GAA Club. ©Photograph: John Reidy

I couldn’t help thinking that the building in which the 2016 batch of Strictly Come Dancers honed their finale-night steps on Thursday evening was funded by the very similar, artistic endeavours of the parents and grand-parents of many of them.

The Tops-of-the-Town variety show was the fundraiser of choice at the time Castleisland Community Centre was being planned and built in the early and mid 1970s.

There was skill and timing and secrecy then too and the yeast in the bowl was common purpose and community spirit.

It’s quite the same now. There is huge credit still due to those whose efforts built the centre and there’s an equally laudable compliment there for those who offer their time and their acquired and considerable dancing skills for today’s causes.

Proverbial Storm

Strictly Come Dancing will take the community by the proverbial storm on Friday night from 7-30pm. Yes there is wonderful dancing. Yes there is secrecy – a lot of it – and as much as there can be in a group so large. Yes there is entertainment – and lots of it in store for Friday night’s finale. And, I feel I’d whisper this bit if I could: There will be a Bar.

If you think this is all just a bit of fun – you should think again. There is fun and laughter in the camp of course.

But I didn’t hear or see anyone laughing until they had, close to perfectly, executed a two-tiered move and the lady perched on top took a bow.

There are clip-boards and busily noting biros and a constant tweaking of moves by head-of-choreography, Mary Philpott and her assistant, Fiona Nelligan-McGuire. Their all-seeing eyes scan the floor for room-for-improvement. Their experience and shared knowledge communicated in a nod or a word – at most.

Fast Approaching Friday Night.

On a visual level, you’d clearly see how far the dancers have come along since they first met in the Nano Nagle Hall in April. That hits you on the dress side alone. You’d also appreciate how well they’ve gelled as a unit and how much effort they’ve all put into this fast approaching Friday night.

You may think I’ve told you a lot there. I have. But there are the bits about which I’m sworn to secrecy. Those bits, dear readers, are to delight, entertain and surprise you when you sit down for the opening scenes at Castleisland Community Centre at 7-30pm on Friday evening. Patrons should be aware that the doors of the centre will open at 6-30pm.

Just checking a few details with Aileen Lynch earlier and she told me that they are staging a ‘Strictly Kids’ evening on Thursday from 7-30pm. This is a special show for school children to give them a chance to see the wonders of the event at an appropriate time. There is a €2 cover charge per child – and it’s a strictly No Adult show.

Shuttle Bus From the River Island

And, for the grown-ups on Friday evening, a shuttle bus will run to-and-fro between the River Island Hotel, at Lower Main Street and Castleisland Community Centre from 6.15pm. This is to ensure the area around the centre does not get clogged by unnecessary traffic. People are being asked to leave their cars on Main Street or in the car-park at the Back-of-the-Forge.

There will be parking in the Castleisland Community College car park and also on the yard at the back of the Pitch and Putt Club and in Tangney’s Funeral Home car park.

The car park of the community centre itself will be closed to the public. There will be some designated handicapped parking spaces nearby.

An all-out effort is being made to minimise traffic problems and that’s why people are being actively encouraged to avail of the shuttle bus from the hotel.

And….. to whom it concerns…….there are indeed full bar facilities being put in place for Friday night for your extra enjoyment.

Andrew and Dan as MCs

Andrew Morrissey and Dan Kearney of Radio Kerry will fill the roles of Masters of Ceremonies again at this year’s event. Tickets can be purchased at Muire Gan Smál or from Lynch’s Pharmacy, Lower Main Street. The event is a joint fundraiser for the Muire Gan Small Building project and Castleisland Ladies GAA Club.
As an appetiser, here’s a look at a clip of last year’s Strictly Extravaganza.