The Gaiety Theatre

The Gaiety Theatre
Dublin 2, Dublin, Ireland.

The Gaiety Theatre opened on the 27th of November 1871. The authorities were reticent about granting theatre licenses at that time as they were concerned that these venues provided a platform for locally produced drama which tended to challenge the status quo. To get around this, John and Michael Gunn promised that their venue would be “a well-regulated theatre and therein at all times publicly to act, represent or perform any interlude, tragedy, comedy, prelude, opera, burletta, play, farce or pantomime”.

Today, the theatre offers a mix of operatic and musical productions, drama and a traditional annual pantomime. You can read more about the theatre’s fascinating history here. With a history spanning more than 150 years, it should not come as a surprise that the theatre has a few ghost stories of its own.

Box nine is located in the dress circle. Patrons have complained to theatre staff that someone has touched them on the head during performances, but when they turn around, there is nobody there. One of the managers revealed that people seated here would often ask to be moved. The theatre manager was summoned a few years ago when light anomalies were captured on a security camera. He recalled that “there were these white orbs going up and down the stairs, as if they were the legs of something. Round white things, moving around”. He has also witnessed fire doors closing by themselves, but in normal circumstances they would only do this if the fire alarm had been activated.

A portrait of opera singer, Margaret Burke Sheridan, adorns a wall in one of the hallways. A cleaner once recalled how, at 5am one morning, she turned to see a lady in white standing behind her, and she identified her as the woman in the painting. Margaret died in 1958.

In 1959, a performance of JP Donleavy’s “The Ginger Man” was disturbed when Archbishop John Charles McQuaid entered the theatre demanding to speak to Louis Elliman – one of the theatre’s owners, about what he perceived to be “adult content” in the production. In reality, it was one scene and it was tame by anyone’s standards! Anyhow, after three nights the show was shut down to pacify the angry clergyman. Elliman died in 1965, but staff report that his ghost still keeps watch over the theatre he co-owned with Patrick Wall for nearly thirty years. Curiously, the Archbishop’s ghost has also been spotted in the historic theatre – but only in the bar.

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Further Information

Venue Name
South King Street, Dublin 2, Dublin, Ireland

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