Theatre Royal, Hawkins Street, Dublin

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There were a number of theatres over the years that called themselves the Theatre Royal - it was a title which meant that the theatre had been appointed by the King/Queen, and there could only be one Theatre Royal at any time.

The first recorded Theatre Royal was at Smock Alley, from 1662 to 1787. Converted into a church, or possibly a church built on it. In recent times (21st Century?) re-opened as a theatre.

Between 1787 and 1820 there were at least two locations called Theatre Royal, one in Aungier Street.

Hawkins Street

The site on the corner of Hawkins Street and Poolbeg Street, currently occupied by the monstrous office building Hawkins House, had four different buildings on it, three of which were known as the Theatre Royal. All four buildings had their front on Hawkins Street.

1. (1820 - 1880) The first Theatre Royal was built as the Albany New Theatre and later renamed the Theatre Royal. It was a very wide building so it looks from pictures as if it took up some or all of the current (disused) Screen Cinema site as well as the current Hawkins House site. The building was two storey on the front, with arches on the ground floor and rectangular openings and Greek pillars on the 1st floor. This building was destroyed by fire on 9 Feb 1880.

2. (1886 - 1895) The Leinster Hall - a concert hall. This is shown very clearly on Goad's Insurance Plan of the City of Dublin Vol. 1: sheet 18 (October 1893). It appears to have occupied the exact site of the present Hawkins House office building. (The two subsequent buildings on the site, both known as the Theatre Royal, occupied exactly the same site.) It can be seen that the entrance was on Hawkins Street into a foyer area with stone stairs on either side. The main hall behind this had a raised orchestra stage at the far end. There were a few dressing rooms on either side of the stage but no real 'backstage' area. To the right of the main hall was 'The Annexe', a space about the same length although not as wide as the main hall. There were a number of bars in the building.

3. (1897 - 1934) The Theatre Royal Hippodrome. Pictures of this look very like the Leinster Hall, so it may have been created by converting the Leinster Hall, rather than by rebuilding from the ground up. The front was narrower than the first Theatre Royal, with some extra buildings to the right which were connected. The ground floor of the façade had pillars and rectangular openings, while the 1st floor had arches - this is the opposite way around to the first Theatre Royal (the Albany New Theatre) so it is easy to tell drawings of them apart. The two ends of the front extended forward slightly and were topped with shallow Greek pediments (triangular gables). The words THEATRE ROYAL were written below the left pediment and the words OPERA HOUSE below the right one.

4. (1935 - 1962) The Theatre Royal (the "Royal"). This was an Art Deco building, with lots of curves. There were four dark vertical stripes up the front with windows between them. The words THEATRE ROYAL were up at the top in the centre of the façade, with horizontal stripes on either side. The capacity was 3,700 with standing room for 300. Famous performers in the Royal included Jimmy O'Dea and Mickser Read. The space to the right which had been "The Annexe" was now occupied by the Regal Rooms Restaurant. This had a separate entrance, but was still connected to the theatre.

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