herald

Monday 12 November 2018

Not so Abbey ever after as theatre won't move to GPO

ANOTHER one bites the dust... as the latest plan to relocate the Abbey has been rejected.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs Jimmy Deenihan revealed the GPO on O'Connell Street has been deemed an unsuitable site for Ireland's national theatre.

It is the latest blow to long-standing efforts to relocate one of the country's most famous cultural institutions.

Mr Deenihan said: "Following consideration of the matter by the Government, it has been decided not to proceed with the relocation of the Abbey Theatre to the GPO complex."

The decision was taken following a "thorough examination" of a feasibility study prepared by Mr Deenihan's department and the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The study found that the GPO would be unsuitable "on the basis of the very significant potential costs involved" in relocating to the O'Connell Street location, the minister said.

Other problematic issues concerned the "technical complexity" of the move as well as the "historical appropriateness" of locating the Abbey in the GPO, which served as the headquarters for the leaders of the 1916 Rising.

Planning, conservation and heritage matters were also factors in the decision, Mr Deenihan added.

A further difficulty would have been the relocation of existing tenants of the GPO complex, including An Post, he said.

Mr Deenihan said he will "endeavour to ensure" that the Abbey at its current location is "maintained to a suitable standard".



investment

"The intervention made a number of years ago in the Abbey auditorium was an excellent one and ongoing investment there has addressed front-of-house, box-office, staging and mechanical issues," he added.

In 2009, then minister Martin Mansergh had said initial studies found that the move was possible.

"For the past few months the OPW has been looking at the feasibility of moving the theatre to the GPO," Mr Mansergh said in October of that year.

"The preliminary conclusions are that it would be feasible," he added.

The Abbey had given the Government a detailed brief of what it required at a new site.

It included three auditoriums, a cinema and a gallery.

The GPO was being considered in the context of preparing for events to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

comurphy@herald.ie

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