Lighthouse Cinema: A Great Film Experience

A number of cinemas are all around the Dublin area, but none quite like Lighthouse Cinema. Lighthouse Cinema has made a name for itself for both its blockbuster and its independent film showings of movies from all around the world. Its layered and intriguing history, on-site cafe, and various events celebrating independent and foreign films all comprise this cinema as we know it today.

Lighthouse Cinema – History

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Image: RTE

Lighthouse Cinema first opened its doors to the public on Middle Abbey Street in 1988, founded by Neil Connolly and Maretta Dillon. In the years that followed, the movie theatre made a name for itself as a small cinema housing two screens, which the couple later reflected upon as not “really [being] sustainable into the long term.” The cinema faced closure in 1996, but made a reopening in Smithfield Square in 2012 (where it still stands today). 

The founders “were always looking for a space that would be able to take us into the future[,] and I think that’s what we’ve got here with this 21st century building.” Their cinema was then taken in by Element Pictures, who were responsible for facilitating its 2012 reopening. Its new building features more screens, a larger space of a first floor and a basement level, an on-site cafe, and a bar where people can order drinks.  Lighthouse Cinema’s aim “is to become a destination cinema in the minds of national and international visitors[,] not just those in our immediate catchment area.”

Lighthouse Cinema – Cafe

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Image: Lighthouse Cinema

Whether its before a film you’re going to see or you’re looking for a quality cafe on its own merit, Lighthouse Cinema has you covered. The cafe offers customers everything from coffee to pastries, as per the usual course of cafes. One thing they offer out of this selection is their sandwiches, which can come as ham and cheese sandwiches (as seen below), lemon chicken, or cheese and pickle. They can be bought individually, or as part of a sandwich combo deal pairing its Soup of the Day with it for €12.50.

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Image: Lighthouse Cinema

Their cafe also facilitates the usual theatre snacks of popcorn, sweets, and soft drinks for customers to purchase. For their popcorn combos, the popcorn can be paired with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages alike and also sweets too. It can also be purchased individually in either a medium or large size as seen below (prices are now €4 for medium size and €5.50 for a large size popcorn).

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Image: Lighthouse Cinema

Lighthouse Cinema – Events

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Events in the Lighthouse Cinema are a core part of how it attempts to expand its reach both in Ireland. These are all put on as part of their programme, which is divided into the following strands: “Event Cinema”, “Schools Programme”, “Parent and Baby”, “Hollywood Babylon”, “Cinema Book Club”, and “Silver Screen”. The Cinema Book Club for instance, is a monthly event in where audiences get to see on-screen adaptations of books once a month (shown above). This month’s pick is the film Cats (2019), which can be booked (including the other monthly showings as they come) here.

All things considered, Lighthouse Cinema offers an auteur-worthy cinema package for audiences from all walks of life. Its backstory leading into its Smithfield location today, strong complimentary cafe, and various film events covering mainstream and non-mainstream phenomena in film from past to present. Where its light will shine next in the cinema world will be a cinematic spectacle to watch with your full attention.

Address: Market St S, Smithfield, Dublin 7, D07 R6YE

Opening Hours: 

Sundays – Thursdays

11am – 11pm

Fridays and Saturdays

11am – 1pm

Matthew Lehane
Matthew Lehane

An upcoming MA graduate in New Media and Digital Culture in Utrecht University, with a BA in English, Media and Cultural Studies from IADT, and a QQI Level 5 qualification in Arts, Culture, and History from DFEI. The topics written (and edited) to date for Babylon Radio range from film, tourism, and photography, with a broader range to come during this internship and in future work.

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