The ‘old’ hall was opened in 1928, after four years of energetic fund-raising. Previously, dances had been held in the boat-house and concerts very often in the school. The image is of a poster advertising one fundraising event from 1927.
The siting and building of the Hall seems to have been a hot and somewhat controversial topic. It became the subject of a popular Iona poem:
THE HALL (That was built at the top of Dun I)
Tune – “Bonnie Dundee” (There’s a nice version here.)
Kind friends come gather at my beck and call
And I’ll tell you a story ‘twill interest you all
The “how” and the “why” of Iona’s grand hall
The hall that was built on the top o’ Dun-I.
In the course of events a meeting took place
To settle the size and the cost of the place
But the plans and the site were a perfect disgrace
To the hall that was built on the top o’ Dun-I.
The first one to speak was old Angus MacPhail
And he is the boy that can tell a good tale
He got so excited, he cursed and he swore
He wanted the hall built on the Machair shore.
Then Mr. Ritchie – he started to speak
And he can talk for a month and a week
He thought if a shop were built in the hall
He could sell little crosses to those at the ball!
Then Johnnie Campbell put forward a plea
“The floor must be made of cement, for you see
When I start to dance my twenty stone four
Would knock into matchwood the whole of the floor”.
Last came the site and where it would be
MacPhail said “Cnoc mor would be too near to me
For when they start to dance and to squeal and to squeak
I would ne’er very well be able to sleep”.
Everyone thought it was too near to them
So they decided to build it in some remote glen
Till the schoolmaster said “I’ve got it! You see –
We will build the damned hall on the top o’ Dun-I!”
That fixed the question. The plans they were laid.
MacCormick, the joiner, got a pick and a spade
And he built up a hall, ‘twas a grand sight to see
Standing so bold on the top o’ Dun-I.
On the opening night there was quite a crowd there,
Angus MacPhail, of course, took the chair
He spoke from eight-thirty till a quarter to three
About the hall that was built on the top o’ Dun-I.
All of a sudden the wind blew a gale
And blew the whole ramshackle over the dale
A gable still standing was all you could see
Of the hall that was built on the top o’ Dun-I.
Kind Friends, take advice from a learned man
Concrete, concrete, is ever his plan
If he’d got the job, I bet you would see
The hall still standing on the top o’ Dun-I!