BRIEFLY put on hold over the pandemic, a century old tradition at Laharn in Mallow is coming back next month, as hundreds of people will turn out to dance at the crossroads under the night sky.
The old tradition and historic custom of open air crossroads dancing will resume at Laharn Cross, Lombardstown, Mallow on Sunday, 5th June 2022, and will continue every Sunday from 8-10pm until September.
At the foot of Baelic Mountian in the heart of North Cork, large crowds will waltz, quickstep, foxtrot and polka under the night sky, to the tune of live music from bands such as Denis Hickey & the Marino Band, C & M Sound, The Singing Jarvey and many more.
Before dancehalls, the crossroads were the place to be in the early 1900s. Musicians would congregate at crossroads around the country, and people would flock from all around to dance, socialise, and even romance.
However by 1935, dancing at the crossroads was outlawed, a government decision that was greatly influenced by the Church.
The Carrigan Report, which led to the ban of crossroads dances, said that such social events were “orgies of dissipation”.
The Public Dance Halls Act of 1935 made it illegal for public dancing to be held anywhere without a licence, and the tradition of dancing at the crossroads began to fade as the era of dance halls and showbands was on the rise in the 1940s and ’50s.
Laharn native and county councillor John Paul O’Shea said a decision to re-enact the crossroads dances of old in 1990 turned into a full-on revival of the tradition, which to this day attracts hundreds of people to Laharn crossroads every summer Sunday night.
“There could be a night at the crossroads you’d see someone from America, someone from China, or someone that has just seen us along the way and has decided to come and join in, and everyone just enjoying the atmosphere,” he added.
Local Dan Duggan said he and his wife Mary have been going crossroads dancing every year since it started in 1990.
“Just to be up there dancing and meeting people, there’s a nice crowd going there, you get a bit of dancing but you can walk around and have a chat. It’s an old tradition and I think it’s very important to keep it going,” he added.