The Theatre Royal on Hawkins Street was a huge theatre, the biggest in Europe at one time. Built in 1821, it had a theatre, cinema, wintergarden and restaurant and it was very popular. The theatre closed in 1962 because it wasn't making enough money.
This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.
The Theatre Royal
The Screen Cinema on Hawkins Street is built on a site with a long history of entertainment. There used to be a wonderful theatre here, the famous Theatre Royal.
In olden days, before television and gameboys, people visited the Theatre Royal for entertainment. It was great fun – there were concerts, pantomimes and comedians, even circuses and boxing matches! Dubliners always called it “The Royal”.
The theatre opened in 1821, nearly 200 years ago, on the site of a meat market. It burned down in 1880 and was rebuilt in 1897 and again in 1935. This time it was huge, the biggest theatre in Europe, with room for 4,000 people and a large stage. It had a theatre, cinema, wintergarden and restaurant. You could see a film in the afternoon, then have dinner, and finally watch a variety show, all without leaving the Theatre Royal.
The theatre looked somewhat like the Gaiety now with the same old-world elegance but was even more luxurious. Many famous people, like Bob Hope and Judy Garland, played there. At one time, Bob Geldof’s mother worked there as a cashier. The visiting actors often stayed in lodgings in and around Pearse Square.
The theatre closed in 1962, because it wasn’t making enough money any more. It made way for the cinema and Hawkins House office block.
On the last night, comedian Cecil Sheridan described “The Royal” as a place with “a big heart, big capacity and big audiences.”
Maybe your parents or grandparents remember the Theatre Royal and can tell you more about it.