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National Concert Hall

National Concert Hall
National Concert Hall entrance

The National Concert Hall (NCH) (Irish: An Ceoláras Náisiúnta) is a concert hall located on Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin, Ireland, close to St. Stephen's Green, and is the principal national venue for classical music concerts in Ireland.

Originally built for the Dublin International Exhibition of 1865, the structure was converted into the central building of University College Dublin (UCD) at the foundation of the National University of Ireland in 1908. When UCD began to relocate to a new campus at Belfield in the 1960s, part of the building was converted, and reopened as the NCH in 1981. Since then, the structure has been shared with UCD. In 2005 it was announced that UCD is to relocate all of its faculties to Belfield in the near term, allowing the NCH to develop a major expansion plan on the entire site, bringing it in line with international peers.

Today the NCH is one of Ireland's National Cultural Institutions, under the aegis of the Irish Government's Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and, as such, is grant-aided by the Irish Government. The NCH is a statutory corporate body, with a management team, and a Government-appointed Board.

In 2011, the National Concert Hall celebrated its 30th Anniversary


  • Development plans 1
  • Finances 2
  • Performances, repertoire and performing groups 3
    • Orchestras 3.1
    • Performance areas 3.2
    • Organ 3.3
  • See also 4
  • External links 5

Development plans

Although its facade is quite impressive, the venue's acoustics have been criticized . It is also unsuitable for large-scale opera stagings, lacking full stage facilities. Consequently, calls for a purpose-built venue are made from time to time. Plans have been developed in the early 2000s which involve revamping the existing Auditorium, building a larger newer one plus another small auditorium. This comes after the UCD section was bought from the college to enlarge the Concert Hall.


The NCH generally makes a small surplus, unlike most of Ireland's National Cultural Institutions. This is despite the fact that although it has a high level of attendance, it has only a small public funding element, especially compared to the Abbey Theatre. It is also in strong contrast to Dublin's other major public sector concert facility, The Helix.

Performances, repertoire and performing groups

Due to its central location, lunchtime concerts and recitals are common and attended by many workers from nearby office buildings. In summer, outdoor recitals are given in the adjacent Iveagh Gardens.


The resident orchestra is the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. Other regular performances are made from the rest of the RTÉ Performing Groups. Presently, the NCH has three performance areas.

Performance areas

  • The Main Auditorium, seating 1,200, is used for large scale concerts and some operas.
The Hall was converted from use as an examination hall when the building was the headquarters of UCD.
There is a magnificent concert organ set as a background to the stage, which was designed to complement the surrounding :architecture of the Hall and installed in 1991 in time for the 10th anniversary of the NCH's opening.
The stage area is considered small, making large opera performances impossible at the NCH. (Therefore, they usually have to be accommodated in one of the city's other venues like The Point Theatre or "the theatre" in The Helix, which by contrast has one of the largest stages in Ireland).
  • The John Field Room, seating 250, is used for small scale recitals and as an exhibition space.
  • The Carolan Room, seating 100, is used for pre-event talks, receptions and corporate functions.
  • Other facilities: There is a box office in the foyer, a small bistro, a bar on the first floor, and temporary cloakroom and bar facilities are operated on the ground floor in the inner lobby for performances.


The organ in the NCH was installed by the organ builders Kenneth Jones and Associates in 1991, ten years after the auditorium was built. It features prominently in various performances at the NCH. It is one of the largest organs in Ireland with 4 manuals and 50 stops. One of the notable features of the organ is the magnificent State Trumpet, a horizontal reed stop that faces out into the auditorium.

See also

  • The Helix, opened in 2002 and located on the campus of Dublin City University, is a rival performance space in Dublin. The main auditorium, the Mahony Hall, is a purpose built 1,260-seater concert hall and its acoustics are said to be superior to those of the National Concert Hall.
  • List of concert halls

External links

  • National Concert Hall, Dublin website

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