- Ambassador Event Centre, Parnell Square South, Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin D01 R243 , Ireland
- (01) 873 4686
The Ambassador Event Centre is available to hire for varied types of events, either short term or long running. Please contact Venue Manager Jason O’Leary on firstname.lastname@example.org & Venue Booker Aoife McLaughlin on email@example.com to discuss rates & availability.
The building which is now The Ambassador was constructed as part of The Rotunda Hospital in 1764, as an assembly hall and social rooms. It was primarily used for vital fundraising events for the adjacent hospital, and was called The Rotunda or Round Room. The original architect was Richard Cassels, and the Rotunda buildings were extended many times from its original design by James Ensor including additions by Richard Johnston and James Gandon.
While the exterior is relatively undistinguished for a building closing such an important vista – it closes the top of O’Connell Street, the interior of the rotunda was considered to be one of the finest circular rooms in Britain. James Gandon was responsible for the sculpted stone frieze around the exterior of the round room as well as the entrance block to the building.
The Round Room is now The Ambassador, The Supper Rooms are The Gate Theatre, and The Pillar Room is used by the Rotunda for conferences, events, weddings etc.
The design of the building and its environs were intended to aid fundraising (the hospital was totally dependent on charity) – the social rooms were intended to provide entertainment, there were pleasure gardens around the hospital, and the exterior façade was designed to attract attention from the fashionable quarters of Dublin society.
From 1897 onwards, the venue was given the name Rotund Room and played host to a number of ‘moving picture’ screenings, which at the time were somewhat of a novelty. From about 1908 onwards it was used more regularly to show film presentations and in 1910 it became a full-time cinema, with 736 seats, a basic layout at the time.
Again known as The Rotunda (its nickname being the ‘Roto’ or the ‘Roxy’), the cinema-going public thronged to the venue. Over the years the cinema changed hands, until the 1940s when it was run by Capitol and Allied Theatres Ltd.
In the 1950s the cinema was redesigned, increasing the capacity to 1,200. Added to the main hall was a balcony (containing 500 seats) with private boxes. A new entrance area was also constructed. The cinema was re-opened on 23 September 1954 as The Ambassador. It became a gala event venue, holding screenings of many films for the first time. Of note was the screening of The Blue Max in 1966, which was shot in Ireland. For the screening, a World War I plane adorned the roof of the cinema above the entrance.
In 1977 the cinema was forced to close briefly, however reopened during the summer under new ownership. The Green Group ran the cinema until 1988, and the cinema mainly played children’s films such as The Care Bear Movie and its sequels. In 1988, with single-screen cinemas on the wane, it closed.
However, in 1994 it was given a new lease of life when reopened under the ownership of Ward Anderson. Notable screenings upon reopening included Titanic, however attendances were poor, most notably when a reissue of the 1935 film The Informer was screened to as few as two people per show. On 27 September 1999, after 45 years, the cinema closed.
This however wasn’t the end of the venue. Entertainment promoters MCD Productions leased the building in 2001 and it hosted a variety of events including some theatre productions and many live concerts, all of which used extensive amplification.
Most recently, The Ambassador has housed a number of exhibitions, including Bodies, CSI The Experience, Dinosaur Encounters, Game On, Santa’s Playland, The Art Of The Brick, Terracotta Warriors and Revolution 1916.
- From 1780 to 1786 concerts were held twice a week during the summer season in the Round Room, Rotunda, for the benefit of the Rotunda Hospital. For these concerts the very best talent was procured, and Irish musicians who were forced to go abroad to become prophets, came back at handsome fees.
- Andrew Ashe, who had been principal flute at the Brussels Opera House, appeared at these concerts in 1782, and, in 1791, was engaged by Salomon for the Hanover-square concerts.
- In 1783, Volunteers met in armed convention in The Round Room to draw up a plan for parliamentary reform.
- In the memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi, the world famous clown, it is written that he played in a former assembly room in Dublin in 1820, that was perfectly round, and that the party stayed for seven weeks.
- In 1992, Irish composer & author Brian Boydell published “Rotunda Music in Eighteenth Century Dublin” which highlights many of the acts that played fundraising shows in aid of The Rotunda Hospital. These concerts, instituted in 1749, took place three times a week during the five summer months for the greater part of forty years.