Eblana Theatre

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Eblana Theatre
AddressBusáras, Store Street
Dublin 1
Opened17 September 1959
Years active1959-1995
ArchitectMichael Scott

The Eblana Theatre was situated in the basement of Busáras, Dublin's central bus station, operated by Bus Éireann. A small theatre, seating 225-240 people, it was noted for being without wings and other common aspects of theatrical architecture, having been adapted from short-lived a newsreel cinema intended to entertain waiting bus passengers. It was open from 17 September 1959 until 1995.


The location that became the Eblana Theatre initially intended as a small cinema for newsreel presentations, for the entertainment of waiting bus passengers, and operated in this role for around two years. Then in 1958 the lease was acquired by Phyllis Ryan was run by her and some associates (including Des Nealon) as a conventional theatre, and home to her company Gemini Productions. It opened in 1959 during the Dublin Theatre Festival.[1] The inclusion of the theatre space, which was originally designed as a newsreel cinema, was part of the concept of Busáras being a multi-use public building. It was this original purpose that meant the theatre had no wings, which made mounting large plays or complex sets impossible.[2] The size of the theatre and its proximity to the public toilets of the bus station was a source of some derision, with claims that it was "The only public toilet in Dublin with its own theatre".[3]. Though in fact only the Ladies toilet was close to the theatre, the Gents being some distance away. Performances were occasionally enlivened by lost passengers seeking the lavatories.


Ryan was in the 1960s and 1970s the major producer of new plays in Ireland outside of the Abbey Theatre. Phyllis Ryan and her Gemini Productions kept independent theatre alive in Dublin and premièred most of the work of playwright John B. Keane. The playwrights such as Brian Friel, Joe O'Donnell, Tom Murphy etc., that Gemini nurtured were later adopted by the Abbey and other theatres but owe their first productions to the courage of Phyllis Ryan.[3]


In the mid 1990s, the Eblana was run for a short time by Andrew's Lane Theatre when Gemini moved out of the Eblana in the mid-1980s.[3] Following this it was leased by Northside Theatre Company. It closed in 1995. Despite some erroneous claims (including one that it became a left luggage facility) the theatre is still mostly intact, down to posters and programmes from its last performance. In 2012 plans were announced to refurbish the theatre, at a cost estimated to me around one million euro, to house the Fry Model Railway, though this has never come to fruition.[4]

See also[edit]

  • Eblana (an ancient Irish settlement, traditionally associated with the site of modern Dublin)


  1. ^ "Eblana Theatre". Playography Ireland. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Patrick Scott on Michael Scott & Busaras". Archiseek. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Grande dame of Eblana". The Irish Times. 6 January 2001. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Bus Eireann submitted only suitable proposal". Fingal Independent. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°20′59″N 6°15′8″W / 53.34972°N 6.25222°W / 53.34972; -6.25222