Monday 21 April 2014

Ulysses cinema gets a reel good makeover

Trustee Damien Cassidy embraces the refurbishment of the 1823 Academy Theatre and Music Hall in Pearse Street. Pic: Martin Nolan

A SMALL band of historians is celebrating after an old music hall and cinema featured in the James Joyce epic 'Ulysses' was restored to its former glory.

The old run-down site of the Antient Concert Rooms, which went on to become the Academy Cinema on Dublin's Pearse Street, has been refurbished as part of a new development.

Historian Damien Cassidy said: "We need to pay more attention to old Dublin and famous landmarks. If we don't do something soon we won't recognise our own Dublin."

Other areas which have changed dramatically in the capital include the old horse market area of Smithfield and the Liberties, the historian said.

Both Mr Cassidy and Arthur McGuinness, who was the last cinema manager on its closure in 1970, said they were delighted with the refurbishment.

In the 1840s, the Society of Antient Concerts adapted the inside of the old Dublin Oil and Gas Company building into an 800-seat hall.

It was there in the early 1900s that James Joyce and tenor John McCormack shared the stage.

"McCormack beat James Joyce in the Feis Ceoil there in 1911 which was held in the Antient Concert Rooms," according to Mr Cassidy.

Irish parliamentary party leader Charles Stewart Parnell also gave a speech there.

Mr Cassidy said he had already urged Environment Minister John Gormley to take a trip to the hall to witness the excellent work that could be done to restore old buildings.

The building was also used by members of the Irish Literary Theatre, including WB Yeats, Lady Gregory, George Bernard Shaw and George Moore to stage plays before the opening of the Abbey Theatre.

In the 1920s it was converted and became known as the Academy Cinema.

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