Tuesday 16 January 2018

James Dempsey: Lights, cameras, action .... Smithfield's magic theatre re-opens

The Artist: Bérénice Bejo, Jean Dujardin
The Artist: Bérénice Bejo, Jean Dujardin

On April 15th last year the lights finally went out on a beacon of cultural capital in our beleaguered nation’s capital city. The Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield was ordered by Ms. Justice Mary Laffoy to turn down its lights and wind up its operations, yet another victim of the economic uncertainty that has left the once thriving northside district littered with empty shells of enterprising dreams.

For Dublin’s cinéphiles, a thriving subculture of tweed-sporting beatniks who know only too well the difference between Fassbinder’s Fear of Fear and a Fassbender inspired fear of inadequacy, the loss of the Lighthouse was profoundly felt.

But for Neil Connolly and Maretta Dillon, who had run the cinema since its early days as a two-screen curio in a disused part of Arnotts Department Store on Middle Abbey St., it was the end of an era. Having originally closed in the mid-90s after Arnotts reacquired its lease as part of an expansion framework, it would be 12 years before the grand opening of the new custom designed Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield in April 2008.

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