Youghal’s Regal Cinema reopens

Youghal’s Regal Cinema reopens
The former Regal Cinema in Youghal. It reopened this week with a new design. Picture Dan Linehan

THE Regal Cinema in Youghal, which closed eight years ago, has reopened with an art deco design that is a nostalgic nod to the golden era of film.

“We hope to bring date night back to Youghal!” says David O’Rourke, company director of Redbarn Construction. The company bought the cinema last year for €90,000.

“We were involved in a doing up a housing estate, Parklands, Youghal,” says David. 

“The cinema came up for sale. We thought it would be a great community thing to buy it and restore the cinema to the finest detail, to protect its vast heritage and history, while adapting it to suit contemporary tastes and habits.

“It has been a hectic year, but the positive reaction and memories that the locals have shared with us have been amazing and certainly helped keep us focused on getting doors open for the summer.

“The Regal Cinema is very much part of the community. That has kept up our inspiration and our motivation.”

David, who is Kildare-based, isn’t a Youghal local, but has strong ties with the town. 

“We named our company Redbarn Construction, because we are involved in a lot of projects in Youghal,” says David.

“My grandmother, Maura McLaughlin, grew up on Youghal Strand, in a small house with eight kids, before moving to Waterford in her teens. I have lovely memories of spending summers on the strand, going to the seaside, having ice-creams and, of course, Perks was a big draw!”

The Regal Cinema opened on June 15, 1936, replacing Hurst’s Picture Palace, which was destroyed by fire the previous year.

The Hurst family opened the first cinema in Youghal in 1916 and the cinema remained under the Hurst family ownership and management until its closure.

“The restoration and the reopening of the Regal Cinema is great for Youghal,” says David.

“The cinema is state-of-the-art, with the most up-to-date and advanced technology available, sourced from Belgium and the UK. We’ve blown the budget twice! The technology alone cost €200,000.”

The wine bar, complete with the original half-dome windows, and tasteful cafe, add that special date night or family night out.

“We want people who come to the cinema to have an experience, make a night of it, perhaps enjoy a glass of wine and a chat, before or after seeing the film. Our staff are trained to be the perfect hosts for our patrons.”

The sweeping, grand staircase has shades of Gone with the Wind, the plush seats, of red velvet braided with gold thread, lend a feel of richness and luxury.

Screen 1 has 122 seats, 99 on the ground-floor and 23 on the new mezzanine level. Screen 2 seats 55, and screen 3 is a multi-purpose room. The latter seats 40, and can accommodate community groups. “The multi-purpose space offers the public a completely different space from the norm and will provide a great facility for community groups,” says David.

Redbarn Construction employed local contractors, carpenters, craftsmen and electricians to complete the project. Ned O’Connell’s Interiors Youghal sourced the lighting, and supplied the fabrics for Paul Butler and his upholstery team to create the plush seating.

“Paul and his machinists worked around the clock to deliver the seats,” says Michelle O’Connell. 

“Catherine O’Flynn, interior designer, and myself, were delighted to be commissioned for such a wonderful local project. Our partnership with David and his team was a total success.

“My Dad, Ned, and my late mother, Eileen, were patrons of the Regal Cinema always, and I have great memories of going to the cinema as a teenager. My mother would be so proud, today, to see the magnificent refurbishment of the cinema and our involvement in it.”

Redbarn Construction has another project in the pipeline. 

“We have acquired the old Loreto convent,” says David. The school closed in 2006, leaving the elevated site to fall into disrepair.

“The plan is to construct 42 luxury apartments, creating a new market for people wishing to downsize and to have no maintenance concerns,” says David. 

“Every single apartment will have lift access and a panoramic view of the ocean. There are some outstanding features, including the decorative brickwork, which we will endeavour to preserve throughout. Two acres of private garden enhance the new development”.

Films in July include Ocean’s 8, Incredibles 2, Mama Mia and Mission Impossible. Tickets can be booked online at www.regalcinema.ie.

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