Search billions of records on


Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

The Old Assembly Rooms
Dublin Street, Carlow

The Old Assembly Rooms (Carlow Technical School) on Dublin Street, Carlow c.1954
Source: Carloviana 1956
The Old Assembly Rooms on Dublin Street, Carlow c.2007.
George Bernard specifically requested that the façade be retained.
Source of text and images: Carlow County Library

Playwright George Bernard Shaw and the Carlow Connection In 1899 one of Ireland’s well known literary figures George Bernard Shaw inherited a number of properties in Carlow Town from his uncle Walter Gurly. George was the third child and only son of Thomas Carr and Lucinda Gurley. Without question the finest of these buildings was the Assembly Rooms on Dublin Street which had been in the Gurly family since 1805.

It is thought that the Assembly Rooms were built in 1794 and for many years after was used by the nobility and gentry of the county to host dinners, balls and musical performances which were mainly organised under the auspices of the Committee of Carlow Assemblies. It would appear that during the course of the 19th century the condition of the building deteriorated as George Bernard Shaw remembers his uncle Walter Gurly stating that the Assembly Rooms “would make an excellent observatory as the movements of the heavenly bodies could be studied through the holes in the roof”.

Lectures Concerts and Lectures were held at the Assembly Rooms during the nineteenth century. An advertisement from “The Carlow Post” 5th, February 1859 announces the holding there of two public lectures. The text was as follows:

Carlow Catholic Institute
 by the
Rev W.H. Anderdon, M. A.,
Dean of the Catholic University,
On Monday and Tuesday
7th and 8th Instant [1859]
The Rev. Dr. Anderdon will deliver two lectures
at the
Assembly-Rooms, Carlow
for the benefit of the Carlow Catholic Institute.
“Poetry and the Poets"
:“Recollections of a Tour in Greece”
Commencing each Evening at Half past Seven o’clock.
Terms of admission - Front Seats, Is ; Back do., 6d.
Each member has the privilege of introducing a Lady.
Tickets to be had at the Office of THE CARLOW POST, and from the Librarian at the Institute.
Carlow, February, 5, 1869.
Assembly Rooms as it appeared on the 1873 Ordnance Survey Map of Carlow Town.

In 1912 the Silvester Brother’s leased the building for use as a cinema which they called the Picture House. Locals said “foolish men, the Silvester's, to think that the people of Carlow would go to the pictures every night of the week. This new cinema business is just a craze which won’t last!”. The Brothers filmed local events and regularly filled the cinema up to three times a day as local people came to see themselves on film.

Source of text and images: Carlow County Library & The Carloviana 1956.

George Bernard Shaw

The information contained in these pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing with others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© 2001 County Carlow Genealogy IGP

Back to the top