It has been revealed that work can now begin on the Abbey Theatre Development Project, following a preliminary appraisal.

The Abbey Theatre is currently housed in a building that is over 50 years old, and is widely revered as being insufficient in facilities for staff, audiences and artists, as well as lacking in energy efficiency.

Following a preliminary appraisal, approved by the Minister for Culture, work can now progress on a more detailed appraisal of the project.

This next stage will see The Abbey prepare documentation required under the Public Spending Code, with the theatre seeking expertise to assist in completing the documents.

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht capital plan Investing in our Culture, Language & Heritage 2018 – 2027 provides for an indicative investment of €80 million for this redevelopment project.

Over €460m is being invested in National Cultural Institutions to revamp and modernise their facilities under Project Ireland 2040.

The Abbey Theatre, also known as the National Theatre of Ireland, first opened its doors in 1904.

It was founded by William Butler Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory and has played a vital role in the literary, social and cultural life of Ireland.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD said: “I am delighted with the progress of the Abbey Theatre Redevelopment Project and look forward to this next significant step on the road to a new national theatre and the addition it will make to the cultural landscape.

“The €80m investment will facilitate a fitting redevelopment, contributing to Ireland’s reputation as a centre for theatre as well as revitalising a key area in Dublin city centre.”

Commenting on the announcement, Directors of the Abbey Theatre, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray said: “We are delighted to receive approval to move into the next stage of planning for a new Abbey Theatre for the artists and audience of Ireland. Our ambition is to build a major new cultural centre in the north inner-city, on a site which incorporates our present site at the junction of Abbey Street and Marlborough Street, and extends to open out onto the River Liffey.

“The space will be a destination for artists to create and collaborate and an accessible hub of activity, for the public to experience, throughout the day and evening.”