The Civic turns 21 - The hub of the arts in Tallaght for over two decades

By Hayden Moore

When The Civic theatre opened its doors for the very first time back in March of 1999, the very first show that was staged there was ‘Howie the Rookie’.

Now, as the community-centric theatre is rapidly approaching their 21st birthday, The Civic have welcomed the hit production back as part of their celebrations.

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Sandra and Louise from The Civic’s Box-Office

When Sandra Keating linked up with The Civic 20 years ago, the theatre – a visionary project by South Dublin County Council – was only in its infancy.

Although the official birthday is not until March 23, they have pushed their celebration forward and will be having a night full of cake, food and drinks on February 16 following an exclusive show of ‘Howie the Rookie’.

This week, in preparation for the event, The Echo caught up with box-office manager Sandra who, alongside her colleague Louise Drake, is considered the “heart and soul” of The Civic.

“The first play ever in The Civic when it opened was ‘Howie the Rookie’, by Tallaght playwright Mark O’Rowe, and it had Karl Shiels as one of the original cast members,” Sandra explained.

“And the reason we’re celebrating The Civic’s 21st birthday in February is because ‘Howie the Rookie’ is coming back, except this year Rex Ryan and Stephen Jones are in it.

“So, the play will be on the 15th of February and then the following night it will be on again for the celebration. It’s not just for theatre heads or executives either, we’ve invited some of our most loyal customers to the show and we’ll be having cake, food and drinks after it.”

Since the year 2000, Sandra has become the first face that customers, actors and stage crew see when they walk into The Civic – she creates an environment for everybody that keeps them coming back time and time again.

“The best thing about The Civic is that actors come through those front doors and they’re just part of the family, they don’t get treated any differently than anybody else,” she said.

“It’s a community-based building and we remember everybody that comes in, they could have only done a small play years before but we know each other because we’ll have that chat with them.

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The staff and volunteer ushers of The Civic

“The Civic is full of just ordinary joe soaps, we’re not these big theatre heads.”

Some big names in Irish culture have also attended on occasions, as Sandra added: “Niall Tóibín has been here, Gay Byrne has been here – loads have come in and recognised how nice the place is, but it is never us and them.

“We cater for people young and old, next month we’re doing ‘I am baba’ which is specifically for new-born babies up to a year old.

“We’re not just going to be like ‘right there’s your tickets now, good luck’. We’ll have that bit of banter and I think that’s something that really keeps people coming back, we’re like a big family.”

Together with 12 volunteer ushers, The Civic employs 14 people to ensure the smooth running of a­ place that in the past has played host to the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company and the beloved interactive Fawlty Towers show.

The local house of theatre, music, comedy and dance is the artistic side of Tallaght realised on stage and they are asking past customers to share their memories, pictures and stories with them.

If anyone has a particular memory from throughout the 21-year history that The Civic has been in existence, then email Niamh Honer, Marketing Manager at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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