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Rostrevor's Aurora picture house to open for Cinema Day


George Tinnelly outside the Aurora Cinema in Rostrevor

George Tinnelly outside the Aurora Cinema in Rostrevor

George Tinnelly outside the Aurora Cinema in Rostrevor

One of Northern Ireland's most renowned cinemas is making a "comeback" next week.

The Aurora Cinema in Rostrevor survived some of the toughest times for picture houses over almost four decades before it finally closed.

But its name at least is being revived for Cinema Day on Bank Holiday Monday with a special screening of the John Wayne classic The Quiet Man.

It is part of a now-annual celebration of the silver screen which will also see special showings and cinema-related events taking place across Northern Ireland in Fermanagh, Coleraine, Maghera, Portrush, Londonderry, Ballyclare and Newtownards.

Sara Gunn Smith of Film Hub NI, which is collaborating with the events, said: "Whether you're a film buff, love a bit of nostalgia, want to support your local community cinema or are simply looking for a fun event to bring the family to, we have it covered."

The full programme is available at www.filmhubni.org, but the Aurora is one of the "really cool places" the organisers have included.

Now based in the village Parish Meeting Rooms, it has reinvented itself as the Rostrevor Aurora Community Cinema and will also be screening a series of short films on Monday.

It was in 1952 that the then Kilkeel Rural District Council heard there had been no objections to granting a seven-day entertainment licence for a 'picture house' - at first based in a former Nissen hut.

It had previously found fame in the Second World War as an army and personnel canteen and was positioned at local businessman George Tinnelly's house on the Shore Road.

The original Aurora - the only cinema with that name across Ireland - was set back off the main road and could seat around 300 people.

The cinema had full houses from the start - the first feature film ever shown was the courtroom drama Knock On Any Door starring Humphrey Bogart, John Derek and Allene Roberts.

Then just six years later a purpose-built cinema on an adjoining site was one of the few countryside cinemas to rival the same standards and features as the big cinemas in Belfast.

By the mid-1980s, however, the Aurora, like many other picture palaces in the province and elsewhere, had succumbed to the challenge of television and video and closed its curtains for the last time.

Now at its new venue, the Aurora is set to shine again, and not just as part of the one-day film festival.

Most of the events, which also include the Movie House Cinemas and the Queen's Film Theatre (QFT) in Belfast, are either free or offered at special prices.

Belfast Telegraph