There was a time in the ’80s and ’90s when the Oasis Niteclub was the epicentre of the Irish Saturday night out. While other counties and provinces had their behemoths of disco, the Oasis Niteclub seemed to occupy a realm of its own.
Situated just outside the town of Carrickmacross, for a period of Irish disco history, going to the Oasis Niteclub was a pilgrimage that every young man and woman from the borderlands and beyond hoped to accomplish at least once in their ‘going-out-out’ lifetime, if not every weekend. Every Saturday, buses from Monaghan, Meath, Cavan, Louth, Leitrim and Longford, as well as further afield, would gravitate towards it so their passengers could disco long into the night.
I can still vaguely remember the one time I made the trip. It was a Christmas in Trim and for the only time I can ever recall, a 50-seater coach was outside our local, taking everyone to Monaghan. Today, the trip to Carrickmacross takes an hour but back then it took at least two, especially with stops and there would be stops, you can be sure.
While there are a myriad of legends that emanated from the Oasis, it is important to separate what was fact from what was fiction.
Fact: It was the largest nightclub in Ireland when it opened.
Fiction: The Oasis was the first place in Ireland to spell it ‘Niteclub’.
Fact: It had the longest bar in Ireland.
Fiction: When time was called at one end of the bar, you could still get another round at the far end if you were quick, due to the time difference.
Fact: Local areas had their own particular spots in the night-club which operated strict no-fly zones for neighbouring towns. Kingscourt, I am reliably informed, was ‘left, beside the bar in the open space between the sofas’.
Fiction: At its peak, 42% of marriages taking place in Monaghan and Cavan and 12% of unplanned pregnancies originated here.
Fact: A bus came up from Cork at least once a month.
Fiction: Post-disco chipper vans were making so much money here during the early ’90s that they were ahead of IT and just behind pharmaceuticals in terms of the contribution to Ireland’s GDP.
Fact: In order to minimise rows in the car-park, Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ was played after the national anthem to send people off in a good mood.
Fiction: The Oasis narrowly lost out on the fifth seat in the 1992 General Election for Cavan–Monaghan.
Fact: Meatloaf played here in 1989.
Fiction: Meatloaf’s 1990 hit ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ was inspired by him seeing a couple from Castleblaney chewing the face off each other in the Oasis. (The couple were actually from Clontibret.)
Unfortunately, the good times couldn’t last forever. By the turn of the millennium, the Oasis had turned its back on cheesy pop tunes, slow sets and the occasional mosh and had become purely dance. Numbers started to fall. Buses stopped coming en-masse. The writing was on the wall and when, during a huge Garda raid in the early noughties, 43 people were arrested for ‘not being’ in possession of drugs, its time was up and with that the Oasis finally dried up and only the hotel where it once was housed remained.