PICTURE SLIDESHOW: The Abbey opens new Lime Tree Theatre in Mary I

THE Abbey Theatre’s touring production of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars marked the official opening of the new Lime Tree Theatre in Mary Immaculate College Limerick this week.

An assembled audience of invited guests and dignitaries heard Abbey director Fiach Mac Conghail promise that the national theatre would “be here more often” in future.

The production, selected by theatre manager Louise Donlon to officially open the new state-of-the-art theatre, marked the first main stage Abbey production in the city in over 30 years.

“It is with a great sense of pride that the Abbey is here opening the Lime Tree,” said Mr Mac Conghail.

Admitting that the Abbey’s link with Limerick was “sporadic”, he nonetheless pointed to the fact that the national theatre had produced Yeats’ Caitlin ni Houlihan in Limerick in 1916.

“We want to be here more often and I can see more productions coming from the large stage of the Abbey to Limerick,” he said, referring to the Lime Tree’s opening.

“Irish audiences deserve to see large scale theatre and there is only so many venues around Ireland that can take large scale theatre and finally Limerick has that,” Mr Mac Conghail added.

Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD, and Professor Michael Hayes, president of Mary Immaculate College, along with Mayor of Limerick Cllr Gerry McLoughlin and board chairman Brendan Lane opened the new theatre before the production, the 93rd performance of the Plough and the Stars by The Abbey since they went on tour last July.

Over 8,000 tickets have already been sold for shows at the theatre, which Ms Donlon said will be “an amazing addition to the cultural infrastructure of Limerick”.

Visit the Lime Tree’s website for details on upcoming shows.

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