Profits drop at ‘Riverdance’ but the shows go on

Company records an operating profit of €1.26m, down 45% in the year to the end of June 2017

Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. Some 25 million people around the world have seen a Riverdance performance. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. Some 25 million people around the world have seen a Riverdance performance. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien


Profits at the company behind Riverdance declined in 2017, new accounts show.

Abhann Productions Ltd recorded an operating profit of €1.26 million in the 12 months to the end of June 2017 but were down 45 per cent from €2.29 million the previous year.

Gross profit declined by 23 per cent from €5.41 million to €4.13 million.

Over the past 24 years, 25 million people around the world have seen a Riverdance performance and next year celebratory performances for the show’s 25th anniversary are planned for the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing, the 3Arena in Dublin and Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

In 2018 and 2017, Riverdance was performed for audiences in the US, China, Europe and here, totalling 848,000.

Executive producer with the show Julian Erskine said that in 2017, 495,000 fans saw Riverdance in China, North America, Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium and at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.

Mr Erskine said that Riverdance sold 300,000 tickets during a 60-city tour of North America between January and June 2017 and 90,000 tickets during a 10-week tour of China in the year under review.

Mr Erskine also said that 30,000 tickets were sold during an eight-week tour of Scandinavia, Germany and Belgium from September to October 2017 with an additional 75,000 tickets sold at the Gaiety Theatre during the summer of 2017.

Three companies

Three Riverdance companies – Barrow, Shannon and Foyle – each employing 55 people, toured during 2017 and Mr Erskine said that in 2018, 353,000 people paid to see Riverdance.

North America was again the most lucrative, accounting for 180,000 tickets with an additional 100,000 tickets sold here.

In terms of 2019, Mr Erskine said: “Riverdance will take a break from international touring in preparation for the 25th anniversary celebrations. The show, however, will run at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, and at the INEC, Killarney, Ireland, in summer 2019.”

On next year’s anniversary plans, Mr Erskine said: “Riverdance will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2020 with the new 25th anniversary show touring North America, UK, Europe, China and throughout the world from January, 2020.”

Producers Moya Doherty and John McColgan have overseen the worldwide success of Riverdance since 1995 and directors’ pay last year declined from €1.76 million to €1.4 million.

The two sit on the board with accountant David Orr and an examination of Abhann Productions Ltd’s accounts between 2000 and 2017 shows the married couple shared directors’ pay, including pension contributions, totalling €81 million.


Four other people served as directors of Abhann over the period. However, the vast proportion of the directors’ pay would have been received by Mr McColgan and Ms Doherty who each own a 50 per cent share in the business.

The show spawned from a seven-minute long interval performance at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest and numbers directly employed by Abhann Productions Ltd in 2017 totalled 24, with staff costs at €2.34 million.

The company’s accumulated profits totalled €5.2 million and the firm’s cash pile during the year declined from €1.81 million to €1.78 million.

According to the directors’ report “the directors are satisfied that the results for the year are consistent with expected levels”.

On the company’s future developments, the directors said “the company has developed an established place for itself within its market and will continue developments in the area”.