Patsy Mc Caughey - The Favourite Face of Social Dancing

There are very few people who have seen the many phases of Irish Céilí Dancing. The rise and decline in popularity. There are few people who can be counted as a stalwart of social dancing. But ask anyone across Tyrone and Fermanagh in the social dancing scene, and at least one name is easily recognised – Patsy Mc Caughey.

To celebrate the start of Mahon’s Hotel Social Dancing, which commences Sunday 22nd September in the Delany Suite, we thought we would ask the main man himself a few questions and take a walk down memory lane.

Patsy Mc Caughey, was born, raised and has lived in Trillick, Co Tyrone for all eighty-six years of his life. He is ‘Mr Trillick’, an advocate and supporter of all things Trillick. So when asked where his favourite dance hall was he inevitably had to say his local hall, and when probed placed Coa as his second (keeping it firmly in the parish).

To highlight his popularity and familiarity he recalled a story of a man named Cathal Curley, who was originally from Irvinestown but no longer lived in the area. Cathal was asked at a funeral in Magheralough how he knew Patsy, after he was seen saying hello to him. Cathal replied ‘When I was a wee boy my mother used to rise me out of bed to go with the Hackney car to bring a load of McGrades to a mass in Trillick and when we arrived Patsy would be at the gate selling papers, and when we went into mass he would be serving. John Carney would ask me to go to a football match after dinner, and there would Patsy doing the gate at the match. Then when I would go to the dance that evening there was Patsy collecting the money at the door.
Straying ever so slightly away from his local area, Patsy did list the Maghery, Bundoran as the one place he wished was still opened, claiming that everyone knew each other and the craic and women were great.

Sprig of Heather (Packie Coyle) are the band who will play on Sunday 22nd, a firm favourite of Patsy’s. He also listed Brian Caul, Melody Aces and the Freshmen from Ballymena who ‘used to fill the hall on a Thursday night’ amongst his all-time favourites.

Despite the fact that the numbers have decreased throughout the years, Patsy maintains that dances are still the best form of socialising.

He recalls a night during Trillick Carnival in the 1960’s – ‘I would have booked the bands and manned the door for dances. Back then the profits lifted would have been split 50/50. Big Tom came and the place was packed out – we took in the equivalent of £400.00 that night. It was brilliant.’

When asked if dancing was the key to his youthful vigour and appearance, Patsy replied ‘Dancing, cycling, not eating too much and drinking plenty of water.’ So there you have it folks, straight from the main dancing man – the key to staying young.

Mahon’s Hotel will host a social dance on Sunday 22nd September, between 3pm and 5pm in the Delaney Suite. Refreshments will be provided. Social Dances will then take place every third Sunday of the month at the same time.