Belfast Telegraph

80m euro facelift for Abbey Theatre moves closer

The building in which the National Theatre is housed is over 50 years old.

The Abbey Theatre in Dublin (Haydn West/PA)
The Abbey Theatre in Dublin (Haydn West/PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

A multimillion-euro refurbishment of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre has taken a step closer with the Government rubber-stamping the next appraisal stage.

The major redevelopment is to address the deficient building in the city centre and facilities for artists, audiences and staff.

The building in which the National Theatre is housed is over 50 years old.

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan approved a preliminary appraisal of the Abbey Theatre development project, giving the green light to the detailed appraisal stage.

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Josepha Madigan (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is investing 80 million euro for the redevelopment project.

The theatre will consult experts to prepare the detailed appraisal documentation required under the Public Spending Code.

It will include economic and financial reviews as well as risk assessments.

It will then move on to design and a future vision for the theatre.

The redevelopment is part of Project Ireland 2040, with the Government investing 460 million euro in national cultural institutions to revamp and modernise facilities.

The original Abbey Theatre, also known as the National Theatre of Ireland, opened its doors to the public in 1904.

It was founded by Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory and has played a vital role in the literary, social and cultural life of Ireland.

It's really exciting for the area - it will rejuvenate this quarter and put it on a spotlight from an international perspective as well Josepha Madigan

Speaking at an event in Dublin on Wednesday, Ms Madigan said: “I think it’s a really exciting project.

“It’s at a preliminary stage and will be put out to tender and the business case will be considered and there will also be risk assessment.

“It’s really exciting for the area – it will rejuvenate this quarter and put it on a spotlight from an international perspective as well.

“There’s huge scope here and so much we can do and it will be wonderful for theatre.

“There’s many maintenance aspects to it too, including soundproofing as the Luas goes past the theatre.”

A spokeswoman for Abbey Theatre said: “The building as it currently stands is deficient for artists, audiences and staff.

“We don’t have accessibility on our stages for performers or actors with any access disability needs and it isn’t accessible to wheelchair users.

“There is plenty to do and it is an exciting time for us.”

Directors of the Abbey Theatre, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, said: “Our ambition is to build a major new cultural centre in the north inner-city, on a site which incorporates our present site at the junction of Abbey Street and Marlborough Street, and extends to open out on to the River Liffey.

“The space will be a destination for artists to create and collaborate and an accessible hub of activity, for the public to experience, throughout the day and evening.”

Some of the artworks on display at the launch included embroidery of the original Abbey Theatre exterior by Lily Yates, as well as an 1890s stage-lifting mechanism, an original programme from the opening night in 1904, and a number of drawings of the old Abbey Theatre before its demolition.

PA

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