The Abbey Theatre

If you are in Dublin on Ireland tours then you may want an evening out.

Ireland’s national theatre is worth thinking about.

Considered one of the most prestigious theatre companies in the world , the Abbey is one of the important institutions to emerge from the Irish Revival of the late nineteenth century.

In 1899 , Lady Gregory , W.B. Yeats, and others created the Irish Literary Theatre , which became known as the Abbey Theatre in 1904.

As a writers’ theatre , its main objective was to encourage the staging of Irish plays for Irish audiences at a time when theatre in Ireland was dominated by the offerings of British touring companies.

The Abbey also aimed to uphold the highest artistic principles and to provide an alternative to the melodrama and vaudeville of the commercial theatres.

Early on , the movement produced a crop of talented playwrights , including Yeats , Lady Gregory , J.M. Synge , and Sean O’Casey , whose contribution to world drama has been widely acknowledged.

The Abbey’s initial success was considerably enhanced by the acting talents of Frank and Willie Fay.

Some of the early productions became embroiled in the politics of the day , causing disturbances in the theatre.

Most notoriously , J.M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World (1907) and Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars (1926) caused riots because of their iconoclastic attacks on idealized cultural nationalism.

Destroyed by fire in 1951 , the theatre was redeveloped to include a smaller auditorium (the Peacock) and reopened in 1966.

Although criticized for its conservatism at times , the Abbey continues to be the most important institution in Irish theatre.

In 1990 , the Abbey triumphed with a production of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, which toured to great acclaim in London and New York.

The best of contemporary playwrights continue to work at the Abbey , including Marina Carr , Conor McPherson, and Eugene O’Brien.

So if on any tours of Ireland check out the Abbey….its a real hidden gem !!

It is even accesible on tours of Belfast and beyond as a day trip with an overnight stay.