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NAAS CINEMAS. THE DARA

Naas Cinemas
Part 2: The Dara Cinema
James Durney

When the Coliseum was bought by Modern Irish Theatres in 1972 the new owners wanted a different name for the cinema when it re-opened. The proprietors advertised a prize of £20 for the most appropriate title in the Leinster Leader on 12 August. The £20 prize was won jointly by Miss M. Ryan, Gransto, Ballcolla, Co. Laois and Mr R. Maguire, The Cottage, Caragh, Co. Kildare, and the new owners announced: “We wish to return our grateful thanks to the many Leinster Leader readers who suggested such a wide and interesting list of names. The Proprietors have gone right through the list and found many appropriate names. However, being situated in the Capital of Co. Kildare ‘The Dara’ seemed the most suitable and was the ultimate choice. (Lured by the prospect of easy money this author suggested ‘The Abbey’ – and you know how far that went!)
The Dara opened on Friday 1 September at 8 pm with “one of the outstanding action-adventure movies of all time ‘The Dirty Dozen’ which has been re-processed in wide screen with multi directional magnetic sound. The Film Theatre will provide cinema lovers with a new experience in luxury. It is of a modern cosy concept to which the many larger cinemas are now turning with a capacity for 440 people. The old Coliseum has been completely altered and is now fitted out to meet the most modern demands of luxury. Plush rich red velvet drapes will hang from ceiling to floor all around the theatre while the entire floor area will be carpeted in warm maroon and gold carpeting. The seating will be of plush red and all seats will have padded armrests for added comfort. The screen has been brought forward and the old ‘pit’ no longer exists. The new Vision screen is the first of its kind so far installed in the Provinces. It has a full range Panoramic vision and extends from wall to wall, ceiling to floor.
“Only the top professional people were entrusted with the transformation of the old Coliseum to the new super luxury Dara. The McGoff Brothers carried out all the main contracting work. Additional carpentry work by Patrick Keane. Outside painting by Brinsley Sheridan and all electrical work was handled by John Mahon. Total cost of the renovations and new equipment has totalled £12,000.”
Paddy Melia, Kilcullen, was the Dara’s Managing Director, while John Mahon continued as the projectionist and house manager. Cine hostesses were: Anne Gunning, Geraldine Wilson and Francis Maher. (The cine hostess uniform was like that of an air hostess, complete with cap and fashionable mini-skirt.) Prices, all parts, were 40p. Matinees: children 20p and 15p.
David Lean’s controversial masterpiece ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ opened in the Dara on 4 September and there were queues for weeks. The Dara also introduced late shows on Friday and Saturday nights and the following year opened a ‘Dara 2,’ with seating for 100. This closed after a short time, and became a poolroom. In 1980 the cinema again went through a change when it was made part of a new shopping complex with the cinema on the top floor. The Dara 2 experiment was repeated in 1989 when a small theatre was opened to cope with increasing crowds.
Fran McCormack, Kildare, took over the Dara in September 2003 and introduced many new concepts. Sadly that great institution of entertainment, the Dara Cinema, closed its doors on Thursday 8 February 2007. The last movies screened were ‘Goal 2’ and ‘Infamous.’

To coincide with the cinema exhibition in Naas Library during Heritage Week we reproduce an article from the Nationalist on Naas Cinemas of old


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