The Abbey Theatre tradition was to strike the gong three times and curtain would rise on the third strike. On hearing the first gong the audience knew to take their seats in the stalls as the play was about to commence.
The Rugged Path by George Shiels was the first play in the Abbey Theatre’s history to be given a long continuous run. The Abbey tradition had been to play for one week, on occasion extended to two weeks. However The Rugged Path ran for an unheralded 12 weeks. During the run an over enthusiastic stage manager struck the Abbey gong too vigorously and it broke in two, an event that made the national papers!
The original gong was replaced, for free, by the manufacturer. This second gong was in the Abbey fire of 1951 and the current gong was last sounded for The Honey Spike by Bryan McMahon in 1993. The gong hung in the prompt corner until 2008 when it moved to the Abbey rehearsal room.