The Abbey Theatre in Dublin was founded in 1903 by W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory. Its precursors were the Irish Literary Theatre and Frank and Willie Fay’s National Dramatic Society. Premises were purchased on Old Abbey Street and in December 1904, the Abbey Theatre opened its doors for the first time.
The company originally traded as the National Theatre Society Limited. In January 2006 this company was dissolved and all assets and liabilities were transferred to a newly established company, Abbey Theatre Amharclann Na Mainistreach, which now runs the theatre.
Tragically in 1951, the original Abbey Theatre buildings were damaged by fire. The Abbey re-located to the Queen’s Theatre. Fifteen years to the day later, on 18 July 1966, the Abbey moved back to its current home at Lower Abbey Street.The artistic policy of the theatre remains unchanged and incorporates the following ambitions: to invest in and promote new Irish writers and artists;
to produce an annual programme of diverse, engaging, innovative Irish and international theatre; to attract and engage a broad range of customers and provide compelling experiences that inspire them to return, and to create a dynamic working environment which delivers world best practice across our business.
In 1925, the Abbey Theatre became the first ever state-subsidised theatre in the English speaking world.
In September 2006 the Government announced that an international design competition would be held to create a new home for the Abbey, to be located on George’s Dock in Dublin. In October 2007, the jury for the competition was announced. It is anticipated that the Abbey will have moved to its new home by 2012.