The Regal Cinema in Youghal, Cork opened its doors in the summer of 1936. The first film shown at the cinema was the Irving Berlin musical Top Hat, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The Regal replaced what was the Hurst family’s second cinema, The Hurst Picture Palace, which was destroyed by fire in 1935. The original Hurst cinema was opened in 1916 and the cinema remained in the Hurst family right up until its closure in 2010.
In 1954, Youghal’s waterfront was transformed to look like a New England whaling port for the filming of Warner Brothers film Moby Dick. Directed by Irish-american John Huston, the film starred Gregory Peck and many locals were hired as extras. The Regal was used as a base for John Huston where he reviewed the reels after each days filming.
While the Regal was converted into a 3 screen cinema in the 1990s and relevant changes made to keep up with the times, many of its original architectural features have been retained.
The Regal has been an integral part of the East Cork community since its opening and many locals have spent time working there. Local man Mikey Roche, pictured above, was one of the cinema’s longest serving employees and worked for a total of 69 years as a projectionist.
Over the last year, the Regal Cinema has undergone an extensive transformation. The new owners have worked hard to retain as much of the existing heritage & history of the cinema throughout the works while adding modern comforts and facilities. The cinema is of huge importance to the people of Youghal and your memories. We look forward to bringing this incredible part of history back to life this summer.
In the book, ‘Goin to the Pictures’ author Frank O’Donoghue explores the history of cinema in post war Ireland,,br>a time when a trip to the cinema allowed people the opportunity to go “from the mundane to the magnificent”.
The book gives a wonderful account of the history of the Regal and neighbouring cinemas in the South East.
The book is available to purchase in the cinema.