Stunning Stella Turns 100

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Stella Cinema Rathmines has celebrated its century, 100 years to the day when the doors first opened to this Dublin cinematic institution.

Having originally opened as a 1283 seater picture house and ballroom in 1923, Stella in Rathmines was ranked 16th in the world’s most beautiful cinemas by TimeOut in 2021. 

To mark the 100th birthday, Stella hosted an elegant, invite-only birthday event on January 29th which celebrated Stella’s past, present and future. The event featured a documentary about Stella made by three young filmmakers who work at the cinema: Ronan Burke, Eoin Collins and Conor Simpson. The documentary included contributions from local community members and the team who operate the cinema today including theatre director Karl Geraghty.

Guests were also treated to a short Buster Keaton silent film Cops accompanied by a live score by Matthew Nolan – a preview of some of the events planned for the birthday celebrations.

Each event will showcase a feature-length silent era film accompanied by a live score performed and composed by Nolan. This series begins on Wednesday, March 8 with The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. To find out more about the programme visit www.stellacinemas.ie.

Ireland’s largest cinema at the time, Stella designed by architectural firm Higginbotham & Stafford was envisioned as a luxurious picture house featuring a large auditorium with balcony level and a first-floor dancehall/ballroom. The building showcased numerous art deco flourishes such as the bright, eye-catching façade with original Stella signage and a striking, illuminated fountain at the front of the screen which dazzled guests during intermissions.

In the 1970’s Stella functioned not only as a cinema but also as a venue for live music playing host to the Boomtown Rats and Elvis Costello.

In the 1980’s the large single auditorium was divided into two distinct screens and the original façade and large front window were covered up with a more contemporary metal design. The cinema continued operating until 2004 when it closed.

In 2015, an 18-month restoration began which saw many of the beautiful original 1920s features, such as the original façade with granite pilasters, uncovered. A typical art deco handrail which guides you up to the first-floor balcony, detailed mosaic tiling of the original Stella logo and original decorative ceiling mouldings have all been kindly restored and can be seen throughout the building. The original suspended projection booth is also still in place. The once separated screens were re-joined into an impressive single auditorium and the elegant balcony level was faithfully reconstructed using photographs of the original 1920’s venue.

The original ballroom was transformed into a luxurious cocktail bar, with a glass atrium and a large front facing window overlooking the bustling Rathmines main street.

The Stella officially reopened its doors to a new generation of cinema goers on the 31st of October 2017, offering a uniquely luxurious cinema experience and a mouth-watering food and drinks selection.