Community formed by the light of Paddys Lantern

Kerry Memorial Hall Secretary Mary Rohan with the hall when it was first built
Kerry Memorial Hall Secretary Mary Rohan with the hall when it was first built

By Maxwell Harris & a story by  the Late Brian Ward

Invitations were sent out and decorations hung for a Grand ball in 1904, to be held at the Dempseys Hall.  These balls were the big social gatherings for Kerry but they were not held in actual halls. This was the dignified name given to people’s barns. These balls were timed to be held to coincide with the full moon, so “Paddys Lantern” would light the way for the people travelling to the balls.

The first Kerry Hall was built in 1911, beside Kerry Bridge Hotel by the publican Mr Power. This hall then became the centre for Kerry’s social gatherings and balls until 1946, when the last social event, a “gifting evening” for Mr and Mrs Smith, was held in the old Kerry Hall.

It was an extremely hot day and a debate over a past hall event flared up. The event was a fundraiser for returned soldiers and  Percy the Publican had waived his hire fee for the  hall and assumed   the piano committee  would not accept payment but they charged a fee to play. Inflamed by grog, words of procreation were used and each side advising the other to get the same. Doubts were also expressed on the legality and origin of each other’s ancestry. The piano committee got their piano loaded on to the back of a utility. 

Two of Kerry’s more diplomatic gentlemen smoothed things over with the publican. The pianists were asked to bring back the piano, but it was too late now. They’d already loaded the piano and expressed vehemently that the publican could go and get himself a pleasurable sensation.

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