Deirdre Ní Chuanacháin traces the history of The Everyman building in Cork which has served the community as music hall, theatre and cinema over the past 120 years
The Everyman building on MacCurtain Street in Cork celebrates a significant anniversary this year. It has stood for 120 years on the street once known as King Street. It was first opened on the 19th April 1897 by Dan Lowrey as a Music Hall called the Cork Palace Theatre of Varieties.
The building, designed by Scottish engineer Richard Henry Brunton, had a stained-glass street canopy with many licensed bars, an ornate ceiling with elaborate gilt boxes on either side of the stage, completed by the raked stalls and a curved and raked balcony.
Such was the success of Brunton’s design that he became involved in the designs for remodelling and enlarging the Star Palace of Varieties in Dublin as the Empire Palace Theatre (now the Olympia Theatre).
On the opening night, the Chairman Mr. John O’Connell is recorded as saying that the Cork Palace Theatre of Varieties was “without question the prettiest, most commodious and best equipped place of entertainment in Ireland.”
From the opening night and over the following three decades variety shows were the main attraction. The popularity of seasonal pantomimes grew over the years and a wealth of dramas were staged by numerous touring repertory companies visiting on a weekly basis from England and beyond.