Sunday 4 December 2016

Mary Kenny: Royal old times in Dublin

From Judy Garland to Bridie Gallagher, the A-list played the Theatre Royal

Published 30/10/2016 | 02:30

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

Dublin is a dynamic city, with new tram-tracks being laid, buildings going up and buildings coming down. And it's gratifying to think that a major building which will soon be under the wrecking ball is one voted by environmentalists "the worst building in Dublin", "an eyesore", and "a monstrosity". This is the concrete tower block already half-decayed and propped up with scaffolding, in Hawkins Street, adjacent to Poolbeg Street and the Liffey, which was once the site of the Theatre Royal.

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The Royal, closed in 1962 and demolished in 1963, was one of the finest theatres in Europe - it could hold nearly 4,000 people. But property developers were laying waste to Dublin's classical heritage and variety shows were beginning to cost too much. So, J Arthur Rank, who owned the theatre, sold it off and it was demolished.

Yet the Theatre Royal is a deposit of memories for older Dubliners who still recall it, and the journalist Thomas Myler - for many years associated with the Evening Herald - has put together a wonderful collection of stories evoking those memories, Showtime at the Royal.

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