Theatre Royal

Hawkins Street,
Dublin 2

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Theatre Royal Dublin

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The Theatre Royal, the largest movie palace built in Dublin, or Ireland for that matter when it opened on 23rd September 1935 with a variety show on stage and two film shorts on the screen (no main feature film). It was the third theatre of the same name to be built on the site. The architect, Leslie C. Norton, designed the Theatre Royal with a stylishly Art Deco exterior, faced in white marble with bands of black separating three large windows over the main entrance and marquee. Stylized sculptural panels on the facade represented Eire and ancient male and female Celtic figures. Masks of comedy and drama were located at the top of the facade.

Inside, the style was totally different, with a Middle Eastern/Moorish style, including a 40 foot-deep stage and large screen. The theatre was equipped with a Compton 4Manual/16Rank theatre organ (with Melotone) which was opened by Alban Chambers. The Theatre Royal, for much of its life, featured live entertainment as well as films.

By the start of the 1960’s business was dwindling and the massive theatre building was closed on 30th June 1962 due to competition from televison, and was razed later in 1962. An office building and the current Screen Cinema was constructed on the site of this Deco gem at the corner of Townsend Street and Hawkins Street.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 11, 2006 at 3:48 am

Leslie Norton was a self-taught architect, and had assistance on the design of the Theatre Royal from the Dublin firm of Scott & Good, according to a news report at the time in Kinematograph Weekly. During a pre-opening press and VIP tour of the new theatre, the world-famous Irish tenor, John McCormack, performed one song to demonstrate the superb acoustics.

irishcine
irishcine on October 1, 2007 at 8:36 am

There are now plans to demolish the office block that replaced the Theatre Royal.

Hawkins House was built on the site of the Theatre Royal and the Regal Rooms Cinema by their owners, the Rank Organisation. It has regularly topped polls since as the ugliest building in Dublin, but is fully occupied mainly by government agencies including the Department of Health. There are suggestions that the nearby Screen Cinema, built as the New Metropole by Irish Rank but soon disposed of on part of the site and still in use as a cinema, might also be included in redevelopment plans. So it is possible that Hawkins House, which already led to the demise of two cinemas, might bring down another one when it is redeveloped.

irishcine
irishcine on May 30, 2008 at 3:35 am

Hawkins House seems likely to survive, the recession in property seems to have put redevelopment plans on hold.

atmos
atmos on June 13, 2008 at 4:05 am

The site the theatre occupied was 91 feet wide and 108 feet deep.A Ross Scenograph machine was installed in this theatre.Does anyone know what this was used for.

edithapearce
edithapearce on June 4, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Scenographs , better known as Brennographs were the cinematic version of disco lighting. They could be used with colour wheels to give a variety of lighting effects such as swirls and flashes.

Many of these machines were also capable of being used as ordinary slide lanterns for projecting urgent news items over the running feature. I can remember using one to project news of Yuri Gargarin’s return to earth.

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