Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Castlebar’s posh moshpit to bring big gigs to northwest

While many eyes may be on the forthcoming unveiling of the refurbished Point/O2 in Dublin’s Docklands, a new 4,000-capacity space has opened in Co Mayo. The Royal Castlebar Theatre and Event Centre is the new handle for the space formerly …

Fri, Sep 12, 2008, 10:03

   

While many eyes may be on the forthcoming unveiling of the refurbished Point/O2 in Dublin’s Docklands, a new 4,000-capacity space has opened in Co Mayo.

The Royal Castlebar Theatre and Event Centre is the new handle for the space formerly known as the Traveller’s Friend and, more recently, as the TF Royal Theatre.

Five months ago the old theatre was levelled to the ground and an all-singing, all-dancing state of the art venue was put in its place.

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While the initial plan was to build a “monster venue”, as manager Donnacha Roche puts it, the decision was taken to go for comfort over volume.

“Rather than pack in as many bodies as possible,” he says, “our aim was to ensure that people enjoy themselves in a comfortable and intimate setting. We believe that the person who sits in the back row of one of our events will still have a first-class experience.”

The Royal Castlebar’s 4,000 capacity means it has the potential to pull in acts who would previously have bypassed the northwest. It also gives music promoters another option when adding Irish shows beyond Dublin and Belfast.

Castlebar isn’t the only Irish town getting a plush new room. Last weekend saw the opening of the €33 million Wexford Opera House. While it’s mainly intended for opera, the availability of two rooms, with capacities ranging from 175 to 864, means it may well witness rock and pop acts soundchecking in the future.

Both venues may feature on the shortlists for next year’s Live Music Venue of the Year awards, organised by the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO). The winning venues for this year’s inaugural awards, as chosen by 6,000 IMRO members, will be announced at Dublin’s RDS on October 3rd. Not surprisingly, the terrible RDS itself is not shortlisted.