Assembly Rooms is another place in Carlow associated with the outstanding Irish playwright.
George Bernard Shaw, Nobel Prize winner in literature in 1925 and Oscar winner in 1938 for the “best screenplay adapted” to the film Pygmalion, was born in 1856 in Dublin. Since 1876 he lived in London and traveled a lot around the world. In Carlow he spent only one day. He came here in 1918 to view his estate, which he inherited in 1899 from his uncle Walter Gurly, including the Assembly Rooms buildings on Dublin Street, which the Gurly family had had since 1805.
According to historical sources, the Assembly Rooms were built in 1794 and for many years the wealthy inhabitants of the area enjoyed balls and dinners organized here. They admired musical performances organized mainly by the Committee of Carlow Assemblie. The building was rented to private persons, tenants changed many times, and so, for example, in 1912 there was a cinema. Films from local events were filmed, and the residents willingly came to watch on screen.
In 1918, George Bernard Shaw gave the Assembly Rooms to the city of Carlow. In 1923 a technical school was opened there, which was very popular. Later a county library was here. Over time, however, the building fell into ruin. In 1935, the premises at the former school on Dublin Street were renovated and refurbished. And on 26th of January 1936, it was reopened by Minister of Education Tom Derrig. The building underwent another renovation at the turn of 2004 and 2005.
Today we can admire the beautiful facade of the building practically in the same form in which Georg Bernard Shaw saw it. Because the wish he had expressed after visiting Carlow was respected – he wanted the facade to be preserved because, as he wrote in 1918 – “it belongs to the best Irish period architecture … “
Location of Assembly Rooms: