Today, during my virtual tour of Dublin, I had the pleasure of walking down the River Liffey to The Abbey Theatre; also known as The National Theatre of Ireland. This theatre was founded by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904 and had close ties with many writers of the Irish Literary Revival. After learning more about the history of the theatre from their website and understanding that the theatre was a large part of Ireland’s fight for cultural autonomy, I found its location within the city even more significant.
The first thing that I noticed on the map was the theatre’s proximity to the O’Connell Monument. In my previous entry, I commented on how O’Connell was potentially an inhibitor of Irish tradition’s longevity. Whether or not that is true, he was one of the most significant political figures in Ireland’s history. Although he was a supporter of the British crown and Ireland’s population speaking predominantly English, he was an advocate for Irish self-governance. Considering the Abbey Theatre was place of Irish pride in the arts and culture of the early 20th century, the close proximity to the monument of O’Connell speaks to the area’s feeling of Irish pride and autonomy.
Additionally, the theatre is right down the street from Trinity College of Dublin. This College was home of many notable Irish scholars starting in the late 16th century. According to Siobhan Kilfeather’s book “Dublin: A Cultural History,” outside of the college is a statue of Henry Grattan who was an advocate of legislative independence in the 18th century. Again, this speaks to the area’s emphasis on cultural longevity and artistic, educational, and political longevity of Ireland and its people.