Smock Alley Theatre

Smock Alley Theatre
Dublin 8, Dublin, Ireland.

The Theatre Royal opened on this site in 1662. At the time, the theatre was admired for its luxurious fixtures and fittings, with 300 people packing the venue seven nights a week. Of course, in those times, theatres were rowdy places. People were also seated in different parts of the theatre according to their social standing, with aristocrats occupying plush boxes adorned with velvet drapes, while their staff would watch from the upper galleries which were polluted by the smoke generated by candles on the elaborate chandeliers. In 1670 and again in 1701, these upper galleries collapsed. Several people were killed and many more were injured. Following a third, partial collapse in March 1734, the building was closed for a time.

The theatre was rebuilt in 1735. By the time it was ready to reopen, a new theatre had opened nearby and had taken the name “Theatre Royal”. So when the original venue reopened in its new building, it was known as the Smock Alley Theatre. However, it clawed back its old name when its rival later closed.

In 1787, the people of Dublin had fallen out of love with this theatre, favoring newer ones that had been constructed nearby. The fading grandeur was stripped away once and for all and the space came into use as a warehouse. Then, between 1811 and 1989, the venue came into use as the Church of St. Michael and St. Johns – a Catholic Church. Part of the old theatre building was demolished while other parts were incorporated into the church building. The new church drew people to it because it was an intimate and happy space, and the parish priests were aware that their congregation had other things to do and places to be – masses were quick and to the point!

The church closed in 1989 and the building became an exhibition centre for just over a decade, at which point the building was abandoned once more. In 2012, the building came into use as a theatre again and it has gone from strength to strength.

The theatre is reputedly haunted by the ghost of an actress. A paranormal investigation was carried out in the building a few years ago, and the team reportedly heard giggling, mysterious footsteps, and encountered the scent of tobacco smoke. If you have encountered anything unusual at the theatre, hit “Add Your Experience” and tell me about it!

Ghost Advisor

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Further Information

Venue Name
Exchange Street Lower, Dublin 8, Dublin, D08 EH67, Ireland
Facilities & Services
Partly Accessible
Bar Available
Concert Venue
Toilets (opening hours may apply)
Wedding Venue


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