The first Cinematography moving pictures were shown in Limerick city in May 1897 in the Theatre Royal, Henry Street.
Up until the 1970s Limerick cinemas were a very important form of entertainment and as such there were many kinds catering to the varied population. Almost each district had its own cinema, showing both the popular movies of the time and repeats from the past.
The cinemas were not only used as film theatres, but as concert halls and dance venues. In the 1950s, some Limerick cinemas were renowned for their “flea-pits” sections of the cinemas that were so dirty that you were bound to leave with a bite or two from some marauding insect.
The Abbey Kinema was located on George’s Quay, and was opened in 1922 by James J Trehy. It was destroyed by fire on 12 April 1930. Trehy then became the manager of the Lyric Cinema.
Athenaeum in Cecil Street was closed and reopened as The Royal Cinema in November 17, 1947. There was seating for 600 patrons. The first film shown was Cole Porter’s smash hit musical NIGHT AND DAY with Cary Grant, Jane Wyman and Dorothy Malone. The Royal Cinema closed in 1985.
This was on North Sexton Street in Thomondgate, it was owned by the O’Donoghue family who also owned a bakery across the street. It was a two tiered cinema with wooden benches on the floor and plush seats on the balcony. It only ran from 1957 until 1968.
This was on the corner of Henry Street and Shannon Street and opened in Easter 1940s, it closed about 1990.
This was on O’Connell Street and closed in the early 1950s. The building now houses the Belltable Arts Centre.
Garryowen Cinema Hall
This was a cinema that opened on Broad street in 1919, where Phelan’s upholstery shop stood in later years. It was up for sale in 1929 and 1934, no notices of films were posted in the Limerick Leader during this period, so it is presumed it stopped showing films in 1929.
Grand Central Cinema/Central Studio Cinema
Grand Central Cinema opened in 1922, situated on Bedford Row, the building in which it stood was originally built as a Primitive Wesleyan Methodist preaching house in 1812. The façade of the church has become integrated with the new development on Bedford Row.
The Gaiety Theatre and Picture Palace
This was located on O’Connell Street and was opened before 1922. The building later became Clancy’s Electrical.
This was situated on Glentworth Street, the Lyric Hall opened about 1923, it later became a cinema that closed in 1977. The building was demolished in 1981.
Ritz Cinema/City Theatre
This was built in the late 1940s on Sexton Street by two O’Sullivan brothers from Corbally. It was closed and then re-opened in 1953 as City Theatre. The building still stands and is used by Shannon Furniture today.
Situated on Bedford Row, this was the site of two cinemas of the same name. The first opened in 1935, with the film “Brewsters Millions” it closed in 1974 and was demolished in 1988.
The second of which was the most recent of all the cinemas in Limerick, it was built in the early 1990s and abandoned in the early 2000s. Above the cinema was a bowling alley from which the breaks of the skittles could be heard during the film.
Theatre Royal Cinema
This Theatre stood on Henry Street, where Smyths toy store is today. It was firstly a Theatre but was used as a cinema in it’s later years, it was destroyed by fire in 1922.
This was situated on Nicholas Street it opened in 1936, it can be seen here in a photograph from the early 1970s, third building on the left. Styx, snooker hall now occupies the building. It closed in 1972.
This was situated on Charlotte’s Quay. Demolished by 1959. It is said that the old roof was used on the Curragower Boat club.
Limerick City Library Local Studies files on Cinemas.