Gaiety Theatre, Dublin

The Gaiety Theatre is a theatre on South King Street in Dublin, Ireland, off Grafton Street and close to St. Stephen's Green. It specialises in operatic and musical productions, with occasional dramatic shows.

Gaiety Theatre
Gaiety Theatre
Location within Central Dublin
AddressSouth King Street
Coordinates53.340312°N 6.261601°W / 53.340312; -6.261601
Capacity1,145 (on three levels)[1]
Opened27 November 1871
ArchitectCharles J. Phipps


Designed by architect C.J. Phipps[2] and built in under 7 months, the Gaiety was opened on 27 November 1871[3] with the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland as guest of honour and a double bill of the comedy She Stoops to Conquer and a burlesque version of La Belle Sauvage.[3]

The Gaiety was extended by theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1883,[4] and, despite several improvements to public spaces and stage changes, it retains several Victorian era features and remains Dublin's longest-established, continuously producing theatre.[5]

Patrick Wall and Louis Elliman bought the theatre in 1936 and ran it for several decades with local actors and actresses. They sold it in 1965, and in the 1960s and the 1970s the theatre was run by Fred O'Donovan and the Eamonn Andrews Studios, until - in the 1980s - Joe Dowling (former artistic director of the Abbey Theatre) became director of the Gaiety.[5] In the 1990s Groundwork Productions took on the lease and the theatre was eventually bought by the Break for the Border Group. The Gaiety was purchased by music promoters MCD (in turn owned by Denis Desmond and his wife Caroline) in the late 1990s.[6][7] The new owners undertook a refit of the theatre,[3] with the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism contributing to the restoration fund.


Performers and playwrights associated with the theatre have been celebrated with hand-prints cast in bronze and set in the pavement beneath the theatre canopy.[8] These handprints include those of Luciano Pavarotti, Brendan Grace, Maureen Potter, Twink, John B Keane, Anna Manahan, Niall Toibin and Brian Friel.[3]

The theatre played host to the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest, the first to be staged in Ireland, during the Gaiety's centenary year.[9] Clodagh Rodgers (a contestant in that particular contest) later presented her RTÉ TV series The Clodagh Rodgers Show from the theatre in the late 1970s.

The Gaiety is known for its annual Christmas pantomime and has hosted a pantomime every year since 1874.[10] Actor and director Alan Stanford directed both Gaiety productions of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Irish entertainer June Rodgers starred in the Gaiety pantomime for years, until she began to headline the equally established Olympia Theatre panto. The Gaiety's pantomimes have included Irish performers that appeal to home grown audiences, including a number of Fair City actors.


  1. "Venue Hire". Gaiety Theatre. Retrieved 2 May 2019. [A] 1,145 seat auditorium including 16 boxes in the Dress Circle and six boxes in the Grand Circle
  2. "Gaiety Theatre, South King Street, Dublin". Architecture of Dublin City. Archiseek. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  3. "A brief history". Archived from the original on 17 January 2010.
  4. "Matcham, Frank - Works". Dictionary of Irish Architects. Irish Architectural Archive. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  5. "Gaiety Theatre". Music Hall and Theatre History. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  6. "MCD buys Gaiety for £4m". Irish Times. 18 February 1999. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  7. "Ireland's Rich List 2018 - Denis Desmond and Caroline Downey". Independent News & Media. 15 January 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018. Denis Desmond (64) and Caroline Downey (56) own MCD, one of the largest music promoters in Ireland [..] Their interests include the Gaiety and Olympia theatres in Dublin
  8. "Tóibín joins hands with Gaiety greats". The Irish Post. 18 May 2005. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007 via
  9. "1971 Eurovision Song Contest". RTÉ 1970s exhibition. RTÉ. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  10. "Gaiety panto still cream of the crop - oh yes it is! - Irish, Business". 29 December 2011. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
Preceded by
RAI Congrescentrum
Eurovision Song Contest

Succeeded by
Usher Hall

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