Programme Notes

Filed under:Research Sources — posted by Hugh Denard on February 9, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

This entry contains a transcription of the programme that audience members received on the opening night of the Abbey Theatre, 27 December 1904; or those sections of it, at least, which have particular relevance to the attempt to create a digital model of the old Abbey. I was able to take reference photos of the whole programme during my recent visit to the Abbey Theatre’s Archives. I adapt the formatting of the original which, apart from doing things with layout that I’d be hard pressed to reproduce here, also has TOO MANY CAPS FOR COMFORT.







The Carpets

in this theatre supplied by

Millar & Beatty, Ltd,

Artistic House
Furnishers. . .

14 Grafton Street and
56 Dawson Street.


The Scenery for the Abbey St. Theatre

has been made and painted by

The Irish Decorating Co.,

Scenic Artists, Bazaar Decorators,
Exhibition Fitters,

Scenic Studio Dublin.

The Library Scene and the Street Scene, at
Kingstown Pavilion Theatre, have also been painted
by Mr. Bryer. We have been entrusted with the
work of decorating the forthcoming All Ireland
Temperence Bazaar, to be held at Ball’s Bridge
in May next.
If you require Scenery of any description
(Sale or Hire) please note the address—

166 Pembroke Rd.,

Principals: Frederick Bryer, Scenic Artist; Joseph S. Mason, Manager.


Complete Electric Installation for Abbey Theatre
erected by

T. J. Sheehan, 68 Dame Street, Dublin,

Electrical Engineer & Contractor
to H.M. War Department.

Complete Installations of Electric Lighting Plants, Motors, Bells,
Telephones erected and maintained. Estimates Free.

Telephone 64x


The Painting

of this theatre has been
executed by

Marks Bros.,

Painting Contractors and Decorators,
13 South Anne Street, Dublin. . .

Estimates Free.


The Upholstering and Seating

of this theatre has been done

James Hill,

10, 11 & 12 Bachelor’s Walk,


J. & C. McGloughlin, Ltd.,

Art Metal Workers and Constructional Engineers.

The Fireproof Curtain & External Porches

of this theatre were made and erected by us.

Works and Offices: 47 to 54 Great Brunswick Street, Dublin.

Established 1875.

Telephone No. 705.   Telegrams— “METALS, DUBLIN.”



of this theatre
was carried out by

R. & E. Farmer,

Builders and Contractors,


Nottingham Street,
North Strand.

Estimates Free.

[The signature “Edward Farmer” indeed appears on one of the plans by Joseph Holloway held by the National Library (AD2191). The inscription “R + E. Farmer” also occurs on AD2190 and on AD2192 (the latter dated “July 7. 1904”). The Farmers crop up again on Holloway’s 1912 plans for the proposed new balcony in the “Electric Theatre, Talbot Street, Dublin” (AD2208), which are signed by both Holloway and E. Farmer and also initialled “DF.”]


Irish Farm Produce Co.

Tea and


21 Henry Street.

Leanam go dlút do c(h)lú ar


Musical Instruments


American Organs.

The Largest Stock in the Kingdom
to select from at

Great Musical Depot,

4 & 5 Westmoreland Street, and reres
of 40, 41, 42 & 43 Fleet Street, Dublin.

The Oldest Music Warehouse in Ireland (established
1801). Covers nearly two acres of floor space.

New and Second-hand Instruments by all the
principal English and Continental Makers. For
Hire, from 10s. per month. For Cash on most
liberal terms, or on the Three Years’ System of
Purchase at Cheapest Rates.

Repairing Pianos. Old Pianofortes
thoroughly repaired—Estimates Free—or taken in
exchange, and the highest price allowed for same in
part payment for a New Instrument.

Gramaphones from £1 10s. to £12 12s.


Combridge & Co, Ltd.

Established 1839.


All Picture
Frames are made
on the Premises by
Competent Workmen.

Depot for Fountain Pens.

18 & 20 Grafton St.,


Stained Glass Windows

in Abbey Theatre made at

An Túr Gloine
(The Tower of Glass)

Stained Glass and Mosaic works,
24 Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin.

Proprietor: Miss Purser, H.R.H.A..,
Private Address: 11 Harcourt Terrace.

Manager: A. E. Child.


Hely’s, Limited,

Printing & Stationery

Publishers & Account
Book Makers.

27, 28, 29 & 30, Dame Street,
Acme Works, Dame Court,

Telephone Nos. 840 & 841.

Telegrams: “ACME, DUBLIN”

[Hely’s are also given, on the outer rear cover, as the printers of the programme.]


I’ll have to do some checking in the City Archives and Thom’s Street Directory to look into these companies and see if any of them may have left archival materials.

The centre-fold of the programme is taken up with the Dramatis Personae and cast of On Baile’s Strand (“Costumes designed by Miss Horniman”), Spreading the News, Kathleen Ni Houlihan and In the Shadow of the Glen.

This is followed by a double-spread advertising various recent publications, including work by Lady Gregory, W. B. Yeats, A.E. et al. including an issue of Samhain, “sold by all Booksellers, and at the Abbey Theatre”, containing “a detailed exposition of the aims and methods of the Irish National Theatre Society, by the Editor [W.B.Yeats], and Miss A. E. F. Horniman’s Letter to the Society, offering it the free use of the Abbey Theatre.”

Overleaf, is a one-page ad for “Books of Irish Interest” stocked by Macmillan & Co. and, on the inside back cover, a listing of “Last Trains” and “Last Trams” on the inside (I notice these rather mean times haven’t changed much since 1904).

The outer back cover advises patrons that “The Abbey Theatre, Lower Abbey St. and Marlborough St., can be hired for Lectures, Concerts, Entertainments, etc. Seats 562 people. For Particulars apply to— Messrs. Cramer, Wood & Co., Westmoreland St, Dublin.  Lessee . . A. E. F. Horniman.

Entering the Archive

Filed under:Research Sources — posted by Hugh Denard on @ 7:15 pm

I visited the Abbey Archives, on the first floor of O’Connell Bridge House, on Wednesday 2 Feb, where I met Mairéad Delaney, Archivist, as well as Mindy Shull from Perdue University, USA who is assisting in the Archives for the next several weeks. While I was there, David McCadden, the Abbey’s Press Officer, having heard about the project through the RIA’s Digital Humanities Observatory, dropped in for a few minutes to learn more; it is extraordinarily satisfying for me to feel the Old Abbey project connect with the current life of the Abbey Theatre.

Mairéad had identified several sources of potential interest, including some excellent photographs of the interior of the Old Abbey, pre- and post-fire, and – a welcome surprise – the ground plan made for the wooden model I had earlier seen in the Hanly’s garden shed. More than other plans I’ve seen, this one emphasizes the irregular parallelogram-shape of the auditorium and stage.

One curiosity that lurks in the archives is a large, cast-iron ashtray from the old Abbey Theatre with neo-classical decorative motifs, which Mairéad believes dates to around 1912.

Cast-iron ashtray from Old Abbey Theatre

Cast-iron ashtray from Old Abbey Theatre

Mairéad also very kindly gave me a copy of Pictures at the Abbey: the collection of the Irish National Theatre, a slim volume by Lennox Robinson and Micheál Ó hAodha (Dolmen Press in association with the Irish National Theatre Society Limited, 1983), which includes the only colour photograph I’ve seen, so far, from the Old Abbey: a beautiful shot of Sarah Purser’s stained glass for the Abbey’s Marlborough Street vestibule (p.10), but also Lennox Robinson’s “Conversation Piece” in which he takes an imaginary American visitor on a tour of the Old Abbey; a wonderfully rich seam of information in its own right!

In anticipation of our appointment, Mairéad had also retrieved from the Abbey’s off-site repository, a large bundle of architectural drawings created in the early 1950s by Michael Scott, Architect. These were part of a survey of the area, postdating the 1951 fire. But, as Mairéad pointed out, while all but the box office went out of use following the fire, the theatre’s fire curtain did in fact save the building as a whole from complete destruction, and so Scott’s detailed, floor-by-floor, survey gives an accurate representation of the Abbey Theatre in its last functioning state, prior to demolition in 1961.

By 1951, the Old Theatre had already undergone a number of renovations and extensions, but there’s no question that these drawings will be of considerable value for cross-checking measurements of the main structural features that appear in Holloway’s 1904 plans.

I was also able to examine the Abbey’s reproduction of the complete programme for the 27th December 1904, which contains all of the information one could wish for about the builders and suppliers of Annie Horniman’s Abbey. These are worth examining in detail, so I’m posting an annotated transcription separately.

Having exhausted the building-related holdings of O’Connell Bridge House, Mairéad, Mindy and I took ourselves off across the river to the Abbey, where we saw in the foyer the copper-framed mirror from Youghal that can clearly be seen in photographs adorning the upper auditorium of the Old Abbey Theatre.

Copper mirror from Old Abbey Theatre

Copper mirror from Old Abbey Theatre

In the bar area upstairs, we encountered the four portraits, painted by John B. Yeats for the opening night of the theatre, of the Fay brothers, Annie Horniman and Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh, all elegantly displayed in their original, gilt frames of overlapping laurel leaves and berries.

My sincere thanks to Mairéad, and Mindy, for their generous assistance and to David for his encouraging interest in the project! I look forward to being able to share the results of the research as they begin to take shape in the form of the digital model.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace