An illustrated history of the Abbey Theatre


Using materials from the Abbey Theatre Archive, Archivist Mairéad Delaney, will illuminate pivotal moments in the history of the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre. Founded in 1904 by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, the mission to ‘bring upon the stage the deeper emotions of Ireland’ continues in the Abbey Theatre’s imaginative engagement with all of Irish society through the production of ambitious, courageous theatre.

Posters, programmes, playscripts, designs and production materials rescued from the 1951 fire, allow us to trace the history of the theatre’s stages from the opening premieres of On Baile’s Strand by W.B. Yeats and Spreading the News by Lady Gregory in 1904. Archival materials linked to the ‘Playboy’ riots, the Easter Rising, significant productions, playwrights, actors and international tours allow often unknown stories to emerge. These vital records allow a glimpse behind the curtains of the Abbey Theatre, the first state-subsidised theatre in the English-speaking world.

Mairéad Delaney is the Abbey Theatre Archivist and Staff Director. A graduate of UCD and a professional Archivist, she was commissioned as an external consultant in 1994 to prepare the first detailed analysis of the Abbey Theatre’s archival holdings. In 1996 she was appointed to establish the Abbey Theatre Archive and is currently a member of the Project Team for the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive. In addition to giving specialist tours of the Abbey Theatre, Mairéad frequently acts as an Abbey ambassador lecturing both at home and abroad.


8.00pm Thursday 13th April, 2023
Admission: Members No charge (see Season Membership). Non-Members: €4.00 (Students €2.00)
While the Society will endeavour to deliver the published agenda, lectures and speakers may be changed due to circumstances outside its control