A favourite moment from a long history of attending the Abbey Theatre

After hearing of the Abbey fire my brother Donal, now 15, and on school holidays, took off on the bus because he wanted/needed to be there. Ray McAnally & Co. (who he had met before the fire and been given a rare backstage tour by),  took this youngster to their hearts. He might just have been a nuisance, but they found a job for him. They were plagued with sightseers and obviously not wanting a 15 year old to be involved in the more dangerous work of searching the rubble for memorabilia, they asked him to be ‘doorman’. He wasn’t to let anyone in that he didn’t know. Young as he was and because he knew every member of the Company by sight, he was effective in the role. That is until an elderly bald man with glasses arrived. Donal politely said he was sorry, he couldn’t let him in. The gentleman then said “But I am the Managing Director”. So Ernest Blythe met Donal and was allowed through to the burnt remains of his theatre.

This ‘searching the ruins’ went on for some weeks while the company performed – on the first nights – in the Peacock. After that in the Rupert Guinness Hall and then subsequently found a semi-permanent home in the Queen’s Theatre, Pearse Street.

Donal’s initial fraught meeting with Ernest Blythe left no ill effects and he got a letter of thanks for his help, in due course, enclosing a cheque for £2 – a lot of money for a 15 year old at that time. Copy of letter below.

Ernest Blythe's letter to Donal Fallon, thanking him for helping in the aftermath of the great fire.

Ernest Blythe’s letter to Donal Fallon, thanking him for helping in the aftermath of the great fire.

Maureen Roche

Share your moment

What are we looking for?

A few lines recounting a recent experience or cherished memory of the Abbey Theatre.

Share a photo via Instagram and tag it Abbey110moments, or fill in the form below.

Contact moments@abbeytheatre.ie if you are encountering any problems.






By submitting content to the Abbey Theatre you are agreeing for it to be featured on www.abbeytheatre.ie and that you have copyright for any images.

Latest Added See all

  • My Take on ‘The Risen People’ – Sept 11th 2014 “I remember approaching the Abbey theatre by foot on a…

    + Read in full

  • Seamus Puirseil

    My first visit to the Abbey was in July 1951, a seven year old taken by the hand by my…

    + Read in full

  • Aoife Brady

    Waltzing round the Abbey Bar with Muiris Crowley after a performance of ‘The Dead’ was a lovely if not odd…

    + Read in full

On Twitter + Follow