When did the Savoy Cinema close and what was the last movie shown there? Indeed when did the Savoy open and what was the first film shown? When did the Regent open and what was the first film screened? Movie buff or not, you’ll be doing well to answer those little teasers. Maybe you’ll have better luck with this one: when did Kilkenny’s latest cinema, the Omniplex, open and what was the first movie shown there?
The reason I’m tossing out these questions this week is because the topic of cinemas popped up in the pub the other night. Actually we started with the Garda walkout, all agreeing that in any decent democracy they should be entitled to protest and we correctly predicted that the South-East Four would only receive a slap on the wrist otherwise this country could well have witnessed a ‘Blue Flu’ that would leave the ‘Black Death’ in the shade.
Next up was euthanasia and assisted suicide and ‘living wills’ and ‘the right to life’ and ‘the right to die’, and though each of us voiced strong opinions we failed to find common ground on those complex, challenging and highly sensitive issues.
On then to memory, ‘a very unreliable instrument’ opined the elder in our midst (he would say that, wouldn’t he?) but I guess it is because for the life of me I cannot remember how we got on to memory unless it had something to do with hurling and the ‘encyclopaedic memory’ for the game that the youngest in the company possessed; for instance what was the only year that our hurlers came over Green’s Bridge on their homecoming? Hurling, however, got short shrift and before we knew it we were remembering the ‘pictures’ as we called them or the ‘flicks’.
And now we were back in the Savoy, the Regent and even good old Stallards, known affectionately as ‘the flea house’. ‘I courted a few girls there’, the elder informed us. “Lots of love-bites, I suppose”, joked the youngest, “No, only flea-bites”, and we laughed heartily. And we remembered ‘the pit’ and the ‘domino effect’ (well the elder did) whereby someone sitting on the back forum kicked the one in front, with a knock-on effect until the culprits were unceremoniously ‘evicted’. We remembered the first house and second house, the first house featuring the short film and the main movie while the second house featured only the main movie. We remembered Mick Loughman and Mrs. Sweeney and usherettes rushing down the aisles with torches and beaming in on us like mini-searchlights when we got too boisterous.
Then the youngest reminded us of the jumbo seats in The Regent and the special double-jumbos at the back for courting couples and he recalled when ‘upstairs became downstairs’ something I’d forgotten about. Upstairs, or the balcony, was always the most expensive and visited only when trying to impress a date, but then the unthinkable happened, comfortable, plush seats were installed downstairs and suddenly the stalls became the balcony i.e. more expensive. Well we reeled off the memories, if you’ll pardon the pun, until someone started asking those pesky questions at the top of this column which proved too much for that ‘very unreliable instrument’ the memory because we couldn’t remember much, so we reverted to the old reliable – sport.
Here, by the way, are the answers, among other tid-bits, to the above questions: the Savoy Cinema opened in 1936 and “Anthony Adverse” was the first film shown; admission prices were as follows: 2d for the pit (or the bow-wow); 3d for the stalls and 4d for the balcony. During World War 11 – War News Reels were shown for free to capacity crowds at 11 p.m. after the main show. Local man Jack Parle was projectionist in the Savoy for 36 years until its closure in March 1985. The last film shown in the Savoy was ‘Ghostbusters’.
The Regent Cinema opened on the 18th April, 1947 and the first film shown was “Underground”. Throughout its fifty one year history the Regent Cinema hosted numerous live concerts including The Dubliners, Horslips and Christy Moore & Planxty. The Regent closed on 9th August 1998 and the last film shown was “Outer Space”.
Kilkenny’s Omniplex opened on 17th August 1998. The first film shown was ‘The Truman Show’ and the manager is Anthony Hogan who had been projectionist in the Regent for thirty six years.
Oh, and what year did the Kilkenny team return over Green’s Bridge? I honestly can’t remember.