Friday, 27 February 2009

Smock Alley

My chat with Eliza about the Puritans/Smock Alley on Tuesday's posting reminded me that I should really say more about a trip to Dublin I did a few years ago. I've already mentioned Handel's statue but the primary objective of the journey was to check out some of Mrs Woffington's haunts.

I was especially keen to find a little back-street near the Liffey, not far from Fishamble Street, which was the site of Dublin's Theatre Royal, known as Smock Alley theatre, and the location of Woffington's wildly popular 1742 summer season with David Garrick.

It's long since been demolished, with the site now occupied by The Catholic Church of Saints Michael and John. A look around the back, on Essex Quay, revealed a sign for a little studio theatre (above). It turns out this is now home to The Gaiety School of Acting, which is trying to raise funds to turn Smock Alley into a 220-seat theatre with a a 110-seat studio space. Bravo!

Photograph © Memoirs of the Celebrated Mrs Woffington.

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Eliza Ward said...

Too bad the theatre is gone, but what good news that it hasn't been forgotten! It's actually just neat that there is still a theatre school on the same spot! Sounds like they've raised a lot of money so far, and it's great that the government is supporting the project. Thanks for posting about it!

Mrs Woffington said...

Thanks Eliza. There wasn't much left from Peg Woffington's day because of the rebuilding of Dublin in the late 18th century (she had moved to London by the 1740s), but we did find an amazing directory in the city hall that had her listed, with her trade and the street name. We were able to gauge something of her wealth from the trades of her neighbours - fascinating!