Tureen is a once prosperous small mining town in the Irish Midlands. In the 60's it was even more prosperous as a ballroom, the "Roseland" was built there, and it was the entertainment hub of the whole region. The mines have now closed and the "Roseland" has been closed down for years. The town has fallen prey to superstition. Statues have begun to move, in particular the one of the Virgin above the mineshaft.
Mick McCabe, a man in his forties, is the town undertaker. He used to play in a band called the "Colemen", who were big in their time, and were regulars in the Roseland; the band got their name as all the musicians were employed in the mines. The band fell apart after the death of the main man behind the band, Brendan Smith, who played the saxophone. He died in a mining accident.
The town is in danger of dying and the people decide that they need to attract employment to the town—the Roseland could be used to house a factory. At a meeting Mick announces he will restore the Roseland to its former glory, and reform the Colemen. He is opposed by Danny Boyle, who runs a small nightclub in the town, called Danny's "Graceland". It got the name as the main attraction is Danny's Elvis act. Mick promises the Roseland will bring jobs and income to the town.
Dave Meeney, a journalist from the local paper, the Western Star, arrives in the town to cover the occurrence of the moving statues. He is invited to the meeting about the Roseland. Dave is in his twenties, and the Roseland is new to him. Mick takes his inside the Roseland to show him what it was like, and the idea of reopening it. Danny puts up a lot of opposition to the project, but Mick eventually gets the go-ahead.
Mick tries to get the band together, but realizes very quickly that they are not what they used to be. They are also missing a saxophone player, Brendan being dead, and a singer, Kate, who was Mick's wife and she died in a car crash in England. Dave suggests that Maria could sing for the band. Maria is Mick's daughter. She is nineteen and normally works in Mick's roadside take-away caravan. But she is against singing, and wants to leave the town. Her grandfather, Jimmy Coyle, is against her singing as well, as he considers the singing to be responsible for the death of his daughter, Kate.
Mick's reasons for rebuilding the ballroom are many: a lot has to do with the tragedy of the past. He blames himself for Brendan's death. The day before he died, they'd had a row, as Mick thought Brendan was going to leave the band. Danny had made him an offer to go out on his own. Brendan was also involved with Kate. Now Mick's life is empty and he sees the reopening of the ballroom as a way of atoning for the mistakes of the past; but he also has his eye on Susie Whelan, who has been living with Danny for the last ten years. Kate and Susie were friends, but Susie always came out second best even though she was always romantically interested in Mick. Since the accident, Mick has led an almost monkish existence, and the reopening of the ballroom has rekindled his sexual and emotional life.
Now that Mick has got the go ahead to reopen the ballroom, Danny turns his attentions to making sure Mick fails. He is aware of the feelings Susie has for Mick and to see Mick make the attempt with the ballroom and the reformed band and fail, will serve his purpose in wareding off any threat from Mick.
Mick is not having an easy time: the band is coming to nothing; he cannot persuade Maria to stay and sing—even though he attempts to fix Maria up with Dave; his attempts to get Susie are coming to nothing—she won't leave Danny as she is sure what Mick is doing is only a further example of his obsession with the past, and therefore Kate.
With the help of Dave, Mick does manage to find the original sign; and to get statues placed inside the ballroom of rock'n roll greats, including a statue of Brendan. Dave has also been able to get good publicity for the event through the newspaper.
After a poor rehearsal from the band where it is clear on their own they will be a failure, Mick burns down the take-away caravan. It is a moment of self-destruction, but also a ploy. He goes to Danny to plead with him on his knees, but Danny won't listen. Maria has heard about the burning down of the caravan, and Mick's ploy works, as she is very sympathetic. He then reveals to her she is not his daughter, but that Brendan is her father. This is something she already knew, as Susie had told her. Mick is very angry as all along he thought she didn't know. But Maria sees Mick needs her and agrees to sing.
On the night of the reopening, things are going badly. Few people turn up, whereas there is a big crowd at Danny's
A fire officer arrives and asks Mick to perform a fire drill. Mick is exasperated as he believes Danny to be behind it. When the hall is cleared,Brendan's statue moves and he comes to life. He tells Mick what to do.
Mick gets the band up on the roof, and suspends the glitter ball. When it is switched on, there is a blackout in the twon, except for the Roseland. Mick gets the band ready to play.
With the blackout, people start moving towards the only source of light in the region, the Roseland. Susie leaves Danny's and joins the crowd flowing in the direction of the Roseland. The band plays at full tilt, and the glitter ball lights up the whole countryside, including the statue of the Virgin at the mineshaft. Mick throws Susie a rose, and gets down to join her. They leave the Roseland behind them, as Mick wants to show her he has left it all behind him, but after a short walk down the road again the stream of traffic flowing towards the Roseland, they turn back to join the party.
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