What's Happening With the Stella Cinema in Rathmines?

It closed in 2004 after 81 years.

Then, in January, it was reported by TheJournal.ie that Press Up Entertainment Group had bought it over and intended to restore it, possibly reopening it this summer as a cinema once more, with a cocktail bar.

(Press Up is the group which is also restoring the old Aungier House pub on the corner of Digges Street and Aungier Street.)

Last week, construction at the Stella site caught the eye of architect Ciarán Ferrie. On Sunday, it looked like the facade of the old cinema had been removed.

This was the day before councillors of the South East Area Committee were due to meet and discuss whether to place the Stella Cinema on the Record of Protected Structures.

At Monday’s meeting, the Green Party’s Patrick Costello pointed out that it was public knowledge that the councillors intended to make the Stella a protected structure. Once it is a protected structure, it limits the works a developer or owner is allowed carry out on a building.

“I think it’s disappointing that they removed it [the facade] certainly when it was about to be on the RPF [Record of Protected Structures],” Costello says.

The facade was a new addition, though, according to Labour Councillor Mary Freehill. “[That] was a block frieze at the front that was only put up about 15 years ago,” she said.

“I’m old enough to remember what the Stella looked like and, let me tell you, it was quite elegant,” Freehill said. “That horrible old block, the frieze at the front, that was added and was certainly not part of the original.”

As well as the facade, Costello says, “the inside is really important, and we can’t see that and God only knows what’s happening on the inside … I don’t want to suggest any impropriety by the developer, though.”

The Way It Was

A spokesperson for Press Up said that the plan still is for the building to re-open in its original format as a cinema this summer.

“The original facade is being restored and the cavity blocks were removed to enable this.  The original interiors are also being restored including the beautiful ceiling which was covered up for decades,” she said, by email.

On Tuesday Sandra Cardiff and Gerry Crowley stood chatting nearby. Cardiff recalls her trips to the old cinema.

“I was a child and there was a sweet shop inside and we’d go in there,” says Cardiff. “It was one a level up and downstairs and that was it, not like nowadays.”

“It wasn’t huge but it was pretty popular,” she says. “It would be nice for it to go back to the way it was. I think he [the developer] is keeping a few features there.”

That’s something councillors wanted to know at their meeting on Monday. They didn’t find out, but they did initiate the process of placing the Stella on the Record of Protected Structures.

However, it won’t officially be protected until a notice is put in the paper and the relevant parties are informed, said Dublin City Council Senior Planner Paraic Fallon.

Fallon said the council’s planning department has carried out a legal search, “so we know who the parties are that need to be informed … We’ll be doing that as quickly as we can as, and from, your decision as approved today.”

“In relation to the works, they only come into effect once the notification is issued,” said Fallon. “Then we have significant powers to enforce.”

Councillors will keep an eye on developments, says Labour’s Freehill.

“I’m satisfied that we have commenced the listing process,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to assess and make sure that it will be protected.”

[UPDATED: This article was updated on Wednesday 10 May at 22.35 pm, to include a response from Press Up.]

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Cónal Thomas: is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

Reader responses

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at 10 May 2017 at 08:54

There was planning permission on the site dating from 2008 to demolish the cinema and build a fairly hideous yoke in its place.


This permission is surely expired by now but there’s no other permission lodged or granted for the site. If they plan to do anything, they’d need permission. I would have thought they’d need permission even to alter the facade.

at 10 May 2017 at 11:31

It’s just a big empty shell at the moment. They’ve stripped it down to bare bones as a single big empty warehouse space so far. A salvage company took away the old seating, which to be fair was probably all of interest. It was a pretty grotty place from what I remember. I’d imagine there is more chance of it being a cocktail bar/pub with screen at the end than actual real cinema.

at 10 May 2017 at 16:11

The block facade and neon sign (which was removed about a year ago) were actually built on 1978, not 15 years ago as suggested

Lois Kapila
at 11 May 2017 at 09:35

@Ciarán: Hi Barry, we got a response from Press Up so I’ve updated the article. It seems they are restoring the ceiling so that should be on show again once it reopens.

Noel Ryan
at 28 May 2017 at 14:32

I went to The Stella and I am from Rathmines born and bred and at least they are putting it back as much as they can at lest it not like the old cinema the Princess where where the counsellors in those days the make Sick you never here of them and I have never met one of them in my life. And I am 69 years old and the Stella cinema was an eye sore for years the front was a disgrace with pigeons nesting in the front and shiting all over the footpath o very nice so wath are the Counsellors talking about

elmar schäfer
at 12 September 2017 at 04:02

hey lads can anyone tell me how two cinemas shall survive

elmar schäfer
at 12 September 2017 at 04:03

i think they should do it that both cinemas can survive

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