The Abbey Theatre – should it stay or should it go
June 29, 2000 at 6:54 pm #717706
Just heard that Sile De Valera, of the well known family, is considering three options relating to the Abbey Theatre.
Option one – minor refurbish
Option two – new theatre on a green field site.
Option three- demolish and rebuild on the same site.
It is said that she favours the latter!. Well that takes the biscuit as the site is too restrictive. Poor old Michael Scott, who fought Ernest Blyth to find that he would not move from the present site, leading to the present design which is so constricted. First the Ritz Cinema goes, next the Abbey. And Scott was an Abbey actor too.
June 30, 2000 at 10:09 am #717707
There’s no point in redeveloping there unless they get the couple of building behind it. But then no doubt An Taisce will be shouting about vernacular buildings of Abbey Street.
Mind you, I’ve never been that impressed by the Abbey Theatre anyways. It’s a poor enough brick box by Ronnie Tallon.
June 30, 2000 at 8:49 pm #717708
I hear that they still have the facade of the original stacked up somewhere. If they need to build another auditorium thye could put it behind that, in an Ark-style design. But they should alter the brick box if necessary, because buildings are there to last, not to replace when they become slightly inconvient.
July 1, 2000 at 2:37 am #717709
Is it true that originally, the Scott building was intended to occupy the whole block right down to the river and that the sites couldn’t be assembled or something?
How feasible would this be today – not necessarily at this site, but maybe further down river? Wouldn’t the National Theatre sit very nicely with the National Courts of Justice, the Corpo headquarters and the Custom House, as part of Dublin’s riverine frontispiece?!
July 1, 2000 at 11:08 am #717710
The original facade was indeed stored by someone, his name escapes me for the moment.
Scott wanted the building to follow further down Abbey Street by acquiring the last few houses before the church. Taking the building to the quayside would be magnificent, demolish the lot and turn the building 90 degrees so the foyer is on the river……
July 1, 2000 at 5:48 pm #717711
I think it was Daithi Hanly who has the facade in his garden.
Yes there were plans to build two theatres for the Abbey with stages back to back, on an expanded site running out to the river. A removable wall would have allowed both to join together with the audience at either end. However site accumulating skills were not as developed then as they are now.
July 17, 2000 at 1:43 pm #717712
The original facade is in the garden of former Dublin City arcitect Daithi Hanly, who has been trying for many years to get it restored.
July 18, 2000 at 1:46 am #717713CTRParticipant
I must say that if the interior of the Abbey was better, more spacious and less cinema-like, then the poor exterior could be accepted. However, the whole thing is not at all what a National Theatre should be. It would be impressive if it was of the rank of a small independent theatre company or a town hall or municipal theatre, but as the country’s most important venue for staging Drama, it falls short of its players’ reputation.
Ive spent many pleasant, often memorable nights in the current Abbey & Peacock and would be slightly sad to see it go. But I would prefer that it was totally rebuilt on an enlarged site, for the sake of national pride and the fostering of Dramatic Arts. The current edifice seems to have no lasting architectural importance.
July 18, 2000 at 2:08 am #717714CTRParticipant
For viitors to this site who have not been to this building:
The Abbey as seen from the corner of Abbey St. looking down Marlborough St.
Cross section plan from front to rear of building.
Frontal view from Marlborough St.
The old Abbey, before the 1951 inferno.
July 18, 2000 at 10:18 am #717715
Style-wise is’nt it a pity that we are over a hundred years on from times when we could probably have something like Garnier’s notable opera house in Paris gracing the Liffey. Such imperial building styles of times then conveyed the sense of the ‘national’To rebuild the old Abbey today would be perhaps anachronistic and as it was such a small and modest building. Maybe as already said it’s old facade could be incorporated into a new design either on the exterior or interior…..how about putting it within a glass atrium. Sad to think that Scott had his chance and blew it.His product amounting to a featureless concrete block which dated badly. However we will probably get something resembling the new Project Art’s Theatre which is a fine modern building but would’nt evoke a sense of the ‘national’, especially when one thinks of Yeats, Lady Gregory, ‘republican rebellions’ etc…. and times of old and the grand. Now, that would be a challenge for an architect. (Come to think of it the national theatre in London on the banks of the Thames is a hideous 60’s mass too.)
February 7, 2001 at 7:50 am #705155
MEANWHILE the landmark Abbey Theatre on Abbey Street in Dublin 1 looks set to move to the south side of the city. This decision is likely to be revealed at a press conference today outlining the programme of events for the next few months. The theatre is expected to outline that its preference is for a move to a site offered to the theatre company by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. The new site is located in the Grand Canal Basin.
February 7, 2001 at 9:45 am #717692Hugh PearmanParticipant
Would this be the death knell for Michael Scott’s Abbey theatre? It was always a bit of a cost-paring brick box, but would it now be demolished?
February 7, 2001 at 9:47 am #717693
Well if they do it why not build a landmark ‘state of the art’ high tech muti-purpose theatre and they could reconstruct the old original Abbey facade within a glass atrium. Sounds good?
February 7, 2001 at 10:05 am #717694
I would imagine so Hugh.
February 7, 2001 at 10:07 am #717695
Actually someone on another one of my websites has suggested that the Abbey may be listed because of its interior.
Never heard this before – any ideas?
February 7, 2001 at 10:30 am #717696LOBParticipant
It is not listed in the Dublin City Development plan (1999)
February 7, 2001 at 12:42 pm #717697Rory WParticipant
Yes the present building is awful but the wider sonsideration must be given to the fact that it is one less cultural institution on the Northside. Surely this will impact on the O’Connell Street renewal!
February 7, 2001 at 12:46 pm #717698
Its a pity that there wasn’t a site on O’Connell Street for it.
February 7, 2001 at 2:14 pm #717699alastairParticipant
the irish times on saturday suggested that the calton site might be a possibility.
It seems their ‘designer mall’ plan isn’t working out so far
seems like a better plan than moving southside. I’d sacrifice the nice waterfront location for helping out the rejuvination of o’connell st.
February 7, 2001 at 5:24 pm #717700
Would be brilliant on the Carlton site, reusing that magnificent facade. It would also help add life to the street, theatre goers, people going to the bars in the theatre, and perhaps build one or two good restaurants in the development.
February 7, 2001 at 8:20 pm #717701-Donnacha-Participant
I know the Abbey has many proplems, but a relocation to the south of the river will be very unpopular. I have no sentimental attachment to the present site, but I want the Abbey to stay on the northside of the Liffey. The O’Connell St area badly needs a cultural revival to match the fine plans to rebuild the Street’s image; at the moment it is a mess of fast food places, tacky shops, and miserable commuters. This part of the city has rapidly deteriorated while the southside has flourished. This is why the Abbey must stay. It should be possible to make major modifications and increase space, even if it means completely rebuilding on the present site. Or a move to the old Carlton would be great. RTE radio’s arts programme recently featured a discussion about the move. One person interviewed talked about the undesirable elements in the Abbey St area, and the proplems she has getting there from the southside! Thus, will the move to the south be a triumph for D4 snobbery? I wonder.
February 7, 2001 at 9:24 pm #717702
Who the hell wants to wander away down to the Grand Canal Docks… they think they have problems with tickets sales now… wait until they move away down there…
o’connell street is the nations’s main street (as the corpo likes to tell us) therefore the national theatre should be on it
February 8, 2001 at 8:34 am #717703
The decision rests with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Ms de Valera. According to her spokesman, she has personal reservations about moving it.
personally i’m for remaining in the area of moving to O’Connell Street or even Smithfield. But the docks will only be popular with D4 types.
February 9, 2001 at 9:14 am #717704
The OPW examined alternative locations at this time, including 44-46 O’Connell Street (the old Carlton Cinema), the Maguire & Patterson site, State land at Infirmary Road, the North Wall Quay, Smithfield and the Grand Canal area. It said the O’Connell Street site appeared to have a number of advantages, including adequate space, but pointed out it was 70 per cent in private ownership. In all cases these relocations would cost substantial sums for site acquisitions and would take longer to develop than the existing National Theatre building, it said.
February 9, 2001 at 10:11 am #717705
Maybe then they should stay at the present site (but that is not to heed what B..B..Bertie said ……..man of cultural opinion …….me arse!)
Demolish that present pile and rebuild anew!
Or on the other hand if one considers that the present site is quite small and inadequate perhaps it would be a good idea to move to a new location as suggested.
A new high tech state of the art facility could be built overlooking the Liffey …..a landmark for Dublin city evoking the likes of the Sydney Opera House.
To construct or redesign a new theatre on the present site would be constricted by height and form limitations….. whereas a new spacious site down the docks would offer endless limitations. Think if the likes of the internationally renowned architect Frank Ghery (whom we discussed before)were to design the new theatre….what a plus for Dublin.
By the way the new proposed location is not that far from the city centre either, the city’s core is not that big and once we have a proper transport service.
Besides what has the present site to offer besides sentimental memories and an atrocious building designed by Scott which dates from 1966, (the original building was very small too ‘hence the fire’ ). The old ‘Abbey’ of Casey, Yeats and Co exists in name alone.
To add B..B.. Bertie Ahern ‘man of culture me arse’ should stop uttering his ‘pandering to the joe soap public’ vote catching remarks. As for Sile de Valera she seems more comfortable amongst the bogs.
The national theatre is for all the people of the nation.
[This message has been edited by GregF (edited 14 February 2001).]
December 12, 2001 at 8:30 am #717716
This is good news.
Dublin Corporation has made a Compulsory Purchase Order for the former Carlton Cinema in Upper O’Connell Street, an adjoining site that has been derelict since the Pope’s visit to Ireland in 1979 and other properties in the vicinity. This long-threatened action is being taken following the failure of the Carlton Group to proceed with plans for a major shopping and entertainment centre for which planning permission was granted by An Bord PleanÃ¡la in August 1999. One of the most intriguing possibilities for this pivotal site is that the Abbey Theatre might relocate there.
December 12, 2001 at 9:24 am #717717
Ah ‘Jasus’ will they forever do something with this site…………….how long do they need…..It’s a prime location…..what a fiasco!
February 20, 2002 at 8:48 am #717718
Bigger, better Abbey to star on same old stage
The Irish Independent
The Abbey Theatre is to stay at its present site despite months of speculation that it was to move to a new location. The building, which also houses the Peacock theatre, is to be knocked down and rebuilt at a cost of around Euro100m. And it will mean that the National Theatre will have to move out of its home at Lower Abbey Street for at least three years while the long-awaited new building is completed.
now…. from my point of view is it worth spending 100 million on this…. the abbey loses money anyway, having a slicker theatre wont cure that… especially when it has the same number of stages… why not move the damed thing to O’Connell Street and help rejuvenate the street
February 20, 2002 at 9:27 am #717719
Let’s hope then that they’ll do a good job designing this one…… so as it will not have to be replaced in another 36 years time….as like the present disaster. â‚¬100 million is a generous amount to build something decent. And let’s hope it is of a generous scale…less of that small pokey architecture, with low ceilings, endless walls and corridors and no light…..trademarks of Irish 20th century architecture.
February 20, 2002 at 9:35 am #717720
The site is to be the same size and believe that the size of the floor is the major problem with the existing theatre.
February 20, 2002 at 10:28 am #717721
The same size! ….well then it will not succeed…unless it will be like the Tardis.
The idea of acquiring surrounding sites for space should be considered too….a Liffey frontage sounds appealing.
February 20, 2002 at 10:42 am #717722
“The decision does not preclude any additional sites being purchased to extend the theatre further. However, this would involve negotiating with more than 20 landowners.”
Also a river frontage would require building over Old Abbey Street above ground level or closing the Right of Way.
February 20, 2002 at 10:54 am #717723
Oh dear ….we will have another small mediocre theatre to look forward too…they’ll no doubt build upward however…cramming it into the small site.
February 20, 2002 at 8:50 pm #717724pvdzParticipant
Heard somthing about a new theatre on the quays (Ormond quay i think) last night on the radio. Does anybody know anything about it?
February 20, 2002 at 9:19 pm #717725WhiteCubeParticipant
Sile De Valera was on the 6-1 news tonight – it seems herself and Bertie wanted it to remain where it is from the beginning- although with the O’Connell Street Plaza gettting closer on the horizon the old Carlton just seems like the perfect location – a vast site that would have drawn some Southside luvie money across the river…it was mentioned they were “offered” a site in the docklands…anyone know exactly where? The current location is a greasy side street – surely the sentimental attachments went with the original building ..
February 20, 2002 at 9:49 pm #717726
Originally posted by pvdz:
Heard somthing about a new theatre on the quays (Ormond quay i think) last night on the radio. Does anybody know anything about it?
A major new Liffeyside development is on the cards for Dublin 1 – complete with a new theatre/bar at basement level. Apart from the basement theatre, the scheme will includes a variety of bars, restaurants, bistros, lounges and dancing area with offices overhead. The site presently operates as Murphy’s Laughter Lounge and is fondly remembered by the older generation as the site of the Corinthian Cinema.
February 21, 2002 at 9:11 am #717727
Frank McDonald has a good write up today in the Irish Times about the potential of having the Abbey moved to the former Carlton Cinema site on O’Connell Street.With the ammount of land available here, Art Deco facade and all, it sounds ideal for a spacious ample theatre.
Too bad it’s not the case …..more then a case of a missed opportunity.
[This message has been edited by GregF (edited 21 February 2002).]
February 21, 2002 at 9:01 pm #717728
Regarding the use of the Carlton.
If I recall correctly the Carlton has negligible dressing rooms, no fly tower and only a very shallow stage. It might be possible to build backwad, leaving the auditorium, but I suspect that the rear wall runs up to the lane, leaving no space to push back the stage.(That is unless the lane goes too).
In all the times I was there I do not recall ever leaving at the back of the cinema, from the exits on either side of the screen, -which seem to have been true emergency exits. I vaguely recall a gents toilet behind the screen on the right, if my memory does not play tricks, but I think I am correct in saying the space beyind the screen is characteristically shallow, as in all purpose built cinemas.
It does have a very interesting art deco decorative panels on each side of the screen. Again these should be preserved. I assume they are still in place.
February 21, 2002 at 9:13 pm #717729
re: art deco decorative panels
Were they original DC3? As the cinema was subdivided into four, I assume they were removed from other parts of the building and inserted as decor? As I remember it,the interiors were fairly bland like the current Savoy.
February 22, 2002 at 9:06 am #717730
…..the adjacent derelict site, the former Dublin County Council offices and Dr. Quirkey’s Emporium are to be included too which would yield ample space….presumbably only the facade of the Carlton would be retained…..leaving all of this space to be redeveloped…..but alas not.
February 22, 2002 at 10:37 pm #717731JOFParticipant
Why retain the facade of the Carlton at all? Surely It would be better to start from scratch. On a site that big with such an extensive street frontage on the main street of Dublin you could make an enormous impact. The Abbey should go for something very distinctive and create a landmark for Upper O’Connell St. in the same way that the GPO or Clearys are landmark buildings for the lower part of the street. Nice and all as the Carlton is it’s a little anonymous. We should be able to include our National Theatre on the same list of civic buildings as the Custom House, the Bank of Ireland, Trinity College etc.
February 23, 2002 at 2:02 pm #717732nonoParticipant
I wonder how wise it would be to have such an elongated facade on O Connell St.I do not believe it would help the scale of the street.
The street frontage of the adjoining site is long enough, to create a building of drama, even if it only is a shopping centre.
I also believe there is a certain irony in seeing drama, in such an undramatic, and as JOF put it, anonymous building. I do not really belive there is anything wrong with it. It could not possibly be any more ‘ananymous’ than the Abbey’s current premises.
If the facade was stripped of all the ‘gunk’ (signs windows, canopy etc.) and was treated as a ‘blank’ canvas, I belive the building could really shine.
February 24, 2002 at 7:56 am #717733
re: art deco decorative panels
Were they original DC3?
You can see what they looked like in the Irish Arts Review 1998 p173.
This is an article by E Mc Aulay.
I believe they are still there but have no recent information.
January 30, 2003 at 9:05 am #717734
So the Abbey Theatre is to be rebuilt. E100 million is to be spend on it’s reconstruction which will be up to 11 storeys high. (I can see the objections already, the Green Party are no doubt preparing a dossier.)
Let’s hope they get a big international name in to do the job; Norman Foster, Frank Ghery, Daniel Leibeskind or whoever….but I hope they just don’t settle for Scott Tallon Walker & Co.
Was’nt that 60’s featureless pile really atrocious by Scott and his associates…..the portico that was added in the 80’s however gave it some redemption, but I’m glad to see it go. Hopefully the new design will address the street better and will lead to the rejuvenation of this part of the city which is filled with nothing but tawdry looking establishments and winos. A few good auld pubs in the area however.
January 30, 2003 at 9:24 am #717735
this wont happen….
THE Cabinet yesterday approved a multi-million euro re-development of the Abbey Theatre to be funded through public/private partnership.
The proposal, brought by Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister John O’Donoghue, recommendeds the national theatre remains on its present site, in the Taoiseach’s constituency, on the north side of Dublin.
However this would mean buying the buildings surrounding the theatre which would involve negotiating with more than 20 land-owners.
The re-development will cost an estimated â‚¬200m, excluding the millions involved in the possible acquisitions.
If developing on the current site proves impossible other options, such as developing the Carlton cinema site, will be pushed.
The Government is to invite expressions of interest from the private sector for the “capital re-development” of the theatre “in and/or around the vicinity of the site of the existing theatre”.
An expert group concluded the redevelopment required an appropriate civic setting, and needed to form part of the overall urban regeneration programme covering that city centre area.
Two design options have been selected which would provide the required accommodation.
“I am pleased that it will now be possible to move forward to the next stage of this development,” said Mr O’Donoghue yesterday. “I look forward to the creation in due course of a new home for a National Theatre that reflects its important place in the cultural life of the nation and as the cradle of dramatic genius.”
A recent report examined whether the theatre should be developed upwards on its existing site on Lower Abbey St, extended down to the River Liffey or moved to a different site in the area.
It is the view of the expert group that for the national theatre to function properly the stages and ancillary services of the Abbey and Peacock must be located at ground level.
They would need 4,500 sq metres of space compared to the current 1,500 sq metres.
January 30, 2003 at 10:22 am #717736urbanistoParticipant
What wont happen – the redevelopment itself or SWT getting their mitts on it?
I must admit I am a bit sceptical of any prestige public projects going throug under the present regime in light of Bertie Bowl and Metro.
January 30, 2003 at 11:08 am #717737
January 30, 2003 at 11:27 am #717738urbanistoParticipant
oooh the cynicism…. but I suspect you are right Paul.
January 30, 2003 at 2:22 pm #717739d_d_dallasParticipant
The government could get Kellogs to sponsor STW for one of their cereal boxes…
public-private partnership in action!
January 31, 2003 at 11:43 am #717740shadowParticipant
“Let’s hope they get a big international name in to do the job; Norman Foster, Frank Ghery, Daniel Leibeskind or whoever….but I hope they just don’t settle for Scott Tallon Walker & Co. “
This thread should read “Save the City”, and perhaps we might avoid the disasterous move to elect to chose an architect via reputation rather than the response. This is why architectural competition is so important. Instead of inflated egotistic creations we might actually recieve quality architecture and perhaps surprising architecture. How will be engender an architectural culture here if we automaticaly believe that only an international signature architect will do.
Similarily limited competitions are equally problematic since it tends towards the same problem indicated above, slightly wider pool.
Obviously this does not mitigate against the problems of a poor or uninformed jury.
The reason i raise the probelm of the thread title relates to the possibility of retainign the existing site.
Both the choice of an architectural response as well as site should be thought of in relation to the city as a whole. Where should the abbey be and how it relates to the matrix of urban spaces around it is vitally important. The axis along the liffey where a series of cultural artifacts are linked is perhaps the best solution for the whole city, but to decide upon the issue soley from a property perspective will be damaging ot the potential of the national theatre.
January 31, 2003 at 5:45 pm #717741redeoinParticipant
I would be all on for extending to the waterfront too, as opposed to the Carlton, just to spread the developments around a bit.
If they did the right job, they could substantially narrow Eden Quay, which I think they should do anyway, and put in more plazas-pedestrian stuff, and have a fantastic riverside main front to the building.
I would actually have double main entrances to attract people from both sides. There is no reason why it couldn’t be some sort of world class theatre/workshop/drama museum/living -space complex that is another must-see part of coming to or living in dublin…
January 31, 2003 at 8:21 pm #717742
My sugestion is sell off the Abbey brick by brick, like London Bridge, to somewhere in America, like Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Move the Abbey Company over there too, save the Americans the trouble of trying to squeeze into Lr Abbey Street. Free up the site for another new bridge across the Liffey.
Start with a new theatre on a greenfield site, without the intellectual baggage and faded reputation of the Abbey. Indeed a good ready cash bid might get the RSC to take on a residency.
February 3, 2003 at 9:53 am #717743Rory WParticipant
So dc3 abandon the heritage of the National Theatre – explain to me why this is a good idea? I assume once again this is a piss-take
Why are the usual (foster, leibeskind, Gerhy et al) trotted out as lets have one of their signiture buildings? Could we have something new, not just something from the cv of the global architectural royalty?
February 5, 2003 at 1:44 pm #717744d_d_dallasParticipant
The guy who bought London Bridge thought he was buying Tower Bridge – i.e. the one everyone calls London Bridge, but isn’t…
So maybe we could sell off another theatre brick by brick (Andrews Lane perhaps – you can’t even see it from any street anyway!) hoping the Americans wouldn’t notice.
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