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  • Northside East

The Grove was an essential part of teenage life on the Northside

Thursday, 5th November, 2015 3:56pm

Story by Tony McCullagh
The Grove was an essential part of teenage life on the Northside

The Grove at St Paul's College, Raheny. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

The Grove was an essential part of teenage life on the Northside

The Grove at St Paul's College, Raheny. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

IF YOU grew up on the Northside of Dublin and, like me, are of a certain vintage, chances are you went to the alternative disco at The Grove at some stage of your formative teenage years.

First based in Belgrove Football Club in Clontarf, the iconic disco relocated to St Paul’s College in Raheny in 1975 after the original venue burnt down.

The Grove was a well-known institution between 1967 and 1997. Despite the change in venues, the one constant throughout those years was Cecil the DJ – a man personally responsible for shaping and influencing the music tastes of generations of teenagers: from the swamp rock of Credence Clearwater Revival in the ’60, through the Led Zeppelin classics of the ‘70s, the reinvigorated Bowie of the ‘80s and the grunge of Pearl Jam and Nirvana in the ‘90s, Cecil rarely missed a beat when it came to capturing the Zeitgeist.

The highlight of any night at The Grove was the slow set, not only for the chance it gave you to get up close and personal with those you fancied (and were too shy or sober to talk to in school!), but for the music itself. It’s still impossible to listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Freebird’ without thinking of The Grove. As the song would morph from ballad to rock anthem, the lads would cast aside their dance partners like ragdolls to engage in a frenzied bout of collective headbanging, covering the floor with teenage sweat and dandruff. Did I forget to mention Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’?

This was a time when so-called ‘knacker drinking’ was in its heyday. Those who drank too much before the disco would share the fabled ‘compound’ with those lucky enough to have ‘got the sketch’.

The Grove closed its doors in 1997 but it lives on forever in our memories and record collections.

There have been numerous reunion events in recent times, where Cecil himself has made guest appearances, but none have come close to capturing the magic and innocence of those Saturday nights in St Paul’s.

Following our recent Facebook survey, this is the song which reminds the majority of our readers of The Grove the most. PLAY IT LOUD!

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here