From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
THEATRES, CLUBS, AND MUSICAL SOCIETIES.
The places of public amusement are few. The Drama is little encouraged by the fashionable and wealthy; the theatre is thinly attended, except on the appearance of some first-rate performer from London, or at the special desire of the lord-lieutenant, the social character of the inhabitants inducing an almost exclusive preference to convivial intercourse within the domestic circle. The first public theatre was built in Werburgh-street, by Lord Strafford, in 1635, and was closed in 1641. After the Restoration, a theatre under the same patent was opened in Orange-street, now Smock-alley; and in 1733, a second was opened in Rainsford-street, in the liberty of Thomas-court, and a third in George's-lane. Sheridan had a theatre in Aungier-street, in 1745, which was destroyed in 1754 by a tumult of the audience; and in 1758 another was built in Crow-street, which, with that in Smock-alley, continued open for 25 years, when, after much rivalry, the latter was closed, and a patent granted to the former for the exclusive enjoyment of the privilege of performing the legitimate drama.
On the expiration of this patent, Mr. Harris, of London, procured a renewal of it from Government and erected the "New Theatre Royal" in Hawkins-street, a pile of unsightly exterior but internally of elegant proportions, being constructed in the form of a lyre, handsomely decorated and admirably adapted to the free transmission of the actor's voice to every part of the house: attached to it is a spacious saloon, supported by pillars of the Ionic order. A smaller theatre has been lately opened in Abbey-street for dramatic performances: it is a plain building, neatly fitted up. Another small theatre in Fishamble-street, originally a music-hall, is occasionally opened for dramatic and other entertainments; and a third, in Great Brunswick-street, called the Adelphi, originally intended for a diorama, is used for amateur theatricals.
In Abbey-street is a circus, in which equestrian performances occasionally take place. During the summer season, the Rotundo gardens are open on stated evenings every week, and being illuminated in a fanciful manner and enlivened by the attendance of a military band, and by occasional exhibitions of rope-dancing and fireworks, they afford an agreeable promenade in the open air, and are well attended. In the Royal Arcade, in College-green, are some handsome rooms for public amusements. Clubs and societies for convivial purposes are numerous: several club-houses have been opened on the principle of those in London. The Kildare-street Club, consisting of about 650 members, was instituted upwards of fifty years since, and takes its name from the street in which its house stands: the accommodations contain a large and elegant card-room, coffee, reading, and billiard-rooms; the terms of admission, which is by ballot, are £26. 10., and the annual subscription, £5: it is managed by a committee of 15 members chosen annually.
The Sackville-street Club, instituted in 1795, consists of 400 members chosen by ballot, who previously pay 20 guineas, and an annual subscription of 5 guineas; the house, which contains a suite of apartments similar in character to those of the Kildare-street Club, has been recently fitted up in a very splendid style. The Friendly Brothers' Club, also in Upper Sackville-street, consists of many members who are in connection with similar societies in various countries; the house affords excellent accommodation.
The Hibernian United Service Club, instituted in 1832, is limited to 500 permanent and 200 temporary members, consisting of officers of the army and navy of every rank, and of field officers and captains of militia of the United Kingdom; the terms of admission by ballot are £10. 10., and the annual subscription £4 for permanent members; honorary members are admitted on payment of the annual subscription only; the club-house is in Foster-street, near the Bank. The Freemasons for some years had a hall in Dawson-street: they now hold their meetings in temporary apartments in the Commercial Buildings.
The leading musical societies are the Beefsteak Club, the Hibernian Catch Club, the Anacreontic, for the performance of instrumental music; the Dublin Philharmonic Society, for the practice of vocal and instrumental music; and the Festival Choral Society, for the cultivation of choral music. Other societies, of a more miscellaneous character, , whose names indicate their objects, are the Chess, Philidorean, Shakspeare, Royal Yacht, and Rowing clubs.
From a sad, comfortless childhood Giles Truelove developed into a reclusive and uncommunicative man whose sole passion was books. For so long they were the only meaning to his existence. But when fate eventually intervened to have the outside world intrude upon his life, he began to discover emotions that he never knew he had.
A story for the genuine booklover, penned by an Irish bookseller under the pseudonym of Ralph St. John Featherstonehaugh.
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