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Theatre and Cinema
Theatre and cinema programmes of high quality are available throughout Ireland. However it is in Dublin and Belfast and other cities that the visitor is assured of a continuity, professionalism and variety of theatrical productions, which compare with the best available elsewhere. Dublin is the home of the Abbey Theatre (the National Theatre of Ireland), famous the world over for its association in its early days with W.B. Yeats, J. M. Synge and Sean O' Casey. The Abbey is committed to presenting the works of these and later dramatists and has the special function of presenting the works of new Irish dramatists where these are judged to meet the levels of its standards and tradition. The Gate Theatre is mainly concerned with the production of international classics and for famous comedies by Irish Writers such as Goldsmith, Sheridan, Shaw and Wilde.
The Gaiety and Olympia theatres present programmes of drama, concerts, musicals and revue; the Gaiety is also the venue for the Dublin Grand Opera Society's grand opera season. The Project Arts Centre presents drama, poetry readings and recitals at lunchtime and in the evenings, and because of the innovative nature of its productions is very popular with the youth. The Olympia is famed for its "midnight" sessions. Bands, clubs and cinema that give the theatre a party atmosphere when the evening performance is finished. In Cork the Opera House provides a frequent change of programme during the summer. Irish plays are most usual though there are occasional musical comedy, ballet or opera productions. Galway has the Druid Theatre and Punchbag Companies, which have both lunchtime and evening entertainment and also Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe which offers evenings of Irish traditional music, song and dance in a theatrical setting. Cultur, Galway's Folk Theatre, has performances of traditional music, dance, song and drama during the tourist season.
Limerick's Belltable Arts Centre presents a special programme for visitors during July and August; supper and theatre commencing at 6.30 p.m. or theatre and dinner afterwards at 10.45 p.m. are available. In Sligo, the Hawkswell Theatre produces a continual programme of drama and concerts throughout the year. Waterford Theatre Royal provides similar entertainment and hosts a Light Opera Festival at the end of September/beginning of October. It represents a triumphal blending of top operatic talent with local resources and commitment. The Siamsa Tire in Tralee is a folk theatre entertainment based on the music, folklore and dance of an age when Irish was the spoken language. It recaptures on stage with the music of pipes, flute and fife, the spirit of the rural life of the period in lively and colourful productions.
In Belfast the Grand Opera House puts on a wide variety of shows from opera to pantomime throughout the year. The Arts Theatre stages popular productions including musicals, while the Lyric Theatre is known for its productions of Irish and international drama and for promoting the work of new playwrights.
The Old Museum Arts Centre features experimental work, the Crescent Arts Centre mainly youth theatre and dance, and the Golden Thread Theatre a mix of community and avant-garde work. Outside Belfast, the Ardhowen Theatre in Enniskillen and the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine have continuous programmes throughout the year.
Cinema programmes are available throughout the country and especially in the cities. It is possible for the visitor to catch up with the latest releases within a short period of their release on the international market.
Irish Cabaret is a popular entertainment for visitors, which in Dublin's main venues can be enjoyed over drinks and/or dinner. Top-class performers provide a range of entertainment with an Irish flavour, which the visitor can enjoy in an amusing and friendly atmosphere. The medieval banquets which are put on in Bunratty, Knappogue and Dungaire Castles are known worldwide. Visitors are greeted on arrival, wined, dined and entertained in the lavish style of a nobleman of the fifteenth century whose standing was judged not only on his possessions or conquests but also on the level of his hospitality to friends and strangers alike. Rates for these banquets are set at around £32 with two sittings per night. In other parts of the country cabaret is available in selected hotels or bars and details can be obtained at the local tourist offices.
Traditional music can be heard in a pub atmosphere almost anywhere in the country. Irish traditional music, song and dance is performed at many other venues throughout the country.
The 'Ceili', an evening of Irish music and dancing, has become more popular with the greater level of interest in Irish music. The All-Ireland Fleadh held in the last weekend of August is the most important event in the traditional music calendar. It is a three-day music and song festival which takes place in a different town each year where there are music and singing competitions for all grades and ages. Teach Ceoil ('Houses of Music') are to be found around Ireland and in those houses in an old-time Irish Kitchen atmosphere, traditional music can be enjoyed at its best.
The increasing standards of Irish Pubs have meant that
they are now more popular than ever as places of entertainment. No matter
where the visitor travels he is likely
Festivals have been an essential part of peoples activities for centuries and the Irish have a world-wide reputation for enjoying themselves whether it is as part of an organised event or just among friends. Festivals are beneficial in that they help to spread tourists throughout the country.
The sheer number of attractions that Ireland has to offer will ensure that the visitor will never be stuck for something to do. The majority of Irelands attractions have been created by the wonders that nature has bestowed on this little country. Mans developments cannot match those of nature in their capacity to take your breath away. Modern structures tend to focus on indoor activities that the visitor can engage in when the weather becomes unpleasant.
The quality of facilities that Ireland has to offer has been successfully improved upon over the past number of years. Now more than ever the full gamit of modern technology, traditional entertainment and Irish hospitality merge to form a prodigious tourism product. Irish tourism for so long relied on the importance of Visiting Friends and Relatives for its dynamic. Today over fifty percent of all visits to Ireland are those made by people that have chosen the country as a holiday location. Friends and relatives now account for little over a fifth of all visits (21%)
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