Tipperary County Archives: Early References to Cinema in County Tipperary
The first cinema in Ireland, the Volta, was opened in 1909 by James Joyce, and ten years later we begin to see references to cinemas opening or opened in County Tipperary. Under the 1909 Cinematograph Act, day to day regulation of cinema was carried out by local government authorities (usually being the responsibility of the public health or sanitation department). This month 100 years ago Clonmel Corporation received letters from Roberto Lena’s Repertoire Co. making a formal application for a licence to use The Tivoli Picture Palace, Tipperary Town ‘as a FIRST class picture house’. He also applies for ‘a Cinematograph License’ for the ‘Picturedrome Gladstone St.’, Clonmel (could he have meant Clonmel’s first cinema, the Clonmel Cinema Theatre, soon to be renamed the Clonmel Electric Picture Palace?).
Earlier in the year, in April, Carrick-on-Suir Urban District Council granted a licence to Patrick McGrath, following a statement from the Town Surveyor that ‘Park Cinema is properly erected according to law’. McGrath paid £3 for a licence for his Cinema for 3 years.
In granting the licences in both cases, concerns of the clergy are a consideration. In the case of Carrick-on-Suir, it is resolved that the ‘licence be issued on the understanding that cinema shall not be opened during Missions, Retreats and Holy Week and that school going children shall not be admitted unless accompanied by an adult’. In the case of Clonmel Corporation, the local Canon has objected to Sunday showings. Lena points out that ‘it is Sundays… in all Irish towns that make the difference between a losing week and a profitable one sometimes’, but he concludes ‘doubtless it is useless applying for same if it is stipulated in Licence’.
An earlier reference to cinema in County Tipperary is a special premiere run of ‘Knocknagow’ in the Clonmel Theatre (Magner’s) from 28th January, 1918. The Clonmel opening was designed to acknowledge that the film had been shot almost entirely in the Tipperary locations of Clonmel and Mullinahone.