Film fans in an east Cork resort have been promised a “future of cinema” experience with the re-opening of one of Ireland’s oldest picture palaces following a €500,000 transformation.
The aim of Youghal’s Regal cinema is to return magic to the movies with the ultimate in sight and sound technology, art deco interior and restored original features.
Customers can also bring drinks to their seats from a standalone licenced wine bar and café, or order from attendants during performances.
Built in 1936, the Regal was owned throughout its history by the Hurst family, who closed it in 2010.
Projectionist Mikey Roche, who has since died, had served there for more than 70 years.
Last year, UK and Ireland property developers Redbarn Construction Ltd bought the listed building at auction for €90,000.
The company was two years and €6m into local property investments and, Kildare-based director David O’Rourke concedes, the Regal was a part-sentimental purchase.
“My gran was from Youghal and I spent many happy summers here as a child,” he said. “It’s a community project in many ways.
“The property had been well maintained and our priority was to restore it to the finest detail while adapting it for contemporary tastes with a strong emphasis on comfort and customer care.”
Co-owner Nick Eagles reported a very busy reopening with screenings of Oceans 8, Show Dogs, and Patrick.
“Everybody, including former staff, were absolutely delighted to see the Regal back,” he said.
“By sheer coincidence we opened on the exact anniversary of the original launch in 1936.
“And, almost unbelievably, the son of the original projectionist happened to be holidaying from England and dropped by.”
Throughout the building, the past meets the plush. The original façade and entrance lobby, including terrazzo floor, are among the restored features.
Mr O’Rourke said that, for the Regal’s interior, local designers Ned O’Connell Furnishings “excellently managed” the art deco carpet and fittings.
Public goodwill towards the venture has been widespread with locals helping to preserve the centre’s links to its heritage by donating photos and artefacts from its past. A permanent memoriam to the late Mr Roche is also planned.
The complex has three wheelchair accessible auditoria where modern touches includes 4k digital projection from Britain, Belgian Dolby 7.1 sound systems, and French-imported green teal seating.
The latest releases will be immediately available from online servers in Britain and screened three times daily.
The main auditorium has seating for 137, including a luxurious 23-seat mezzanine and boasts a 7m-wide screen. A second arena seats 62, while a third room, with room for 40, will be available for multi-purpose community use.
“All three auditoria are easily convertible, but the smaller space will facilitate music sessions, exhibitions, launches, or basically any good idea,” said Mr O’Rourke.
The business initially employs three full-time and eight part-time staff, overseen by 44 year-old Edinburgh-born general manager Scott Wilson.
Mr Wilson, with 25 years of global experience in hospitality, said the venture will bring a new kind of cinematic experience.
“We are aiming for the highest of standards in terms of movies and customer service,” he said.
“But it’s also a social attraction and visitors may drop by for a drink even without seeing a movie. It’s the future.”
Tickets range from €8 (€6 children) to €23.
See www.regalcinema.ie for bookings and updates.
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