By Michelle Newman
TWO West Cork men, originally from the Kealkill and Bantry area, have been running a reunion dance in London for the past eighteen years. Teddy Crowley and Seamus O’Sullivan are co-organisers and the driving force behind the event, which they started in 1998.
The recent dance – celebrating its 18th year –was held at St Joseph’s Social Club in Hanwell in West London. The get-together – which was attended by up to 200 people – is a chance for those who have emigrated from Kealkill, Bantry and West Cork to catch-up, socialise and of course, enjoy some dancing.
Teddy’s son, John Crowley, said that his father believed the dance would be a welcome opportunity for people to re-connect with others from their locality. ‘He thought of the number of people who had emigrated from the Bantry and Kealkill area to London, and thought it would be a lovely idea for them to meet up once a year,’ said John.
‘Really anyone from Clonakilty, Skibbereen, and Glengarriff comes along to join in. It is not exclusive to the Kealkill-Bantry community, but it is predominately a West Cork affair.’
John, whose father Teddy moved to London from Kealkill in 1973, said his dad has always been a ‘big figure’ in the Irish community over there. He ran Irish country and Western dances, card drives and he used to run a local social club in Hammersmith.
Teddy – who buys The Southern Star each week – has always maintained a close link with home and said it was important for people from West Cork to come together. ‘I’m very proud of where I come from. I still watch out for the local Gaelic results, road-bowling scores and news from home. Some people say I’ve never left West Cork. We were back there in the summer visiting family and relations, but this event allows West Cork exiles to come together once a year in London.’