Efforts are to be made to bring the Astor Cinema back to life in the centre of Scariff.
Interest in the development of the facility was first piqued after publication of the Government’s Rural Development Policy for 2021 to 2025. The plan raises the prospect of turning pubs into remote working hubs and also to transform derelict community buildings into community venues.
Already identified as an opportunity site in the current County Development Plan, renewed potential for the Astor Cinema can be realised as part of the rural policy, a former Chair of the steering group of Clare Tourism has outlined.
Opened in 1947, the Astor Cinema stayed in operation until 1968. It served as a temporary secondary school and was a popular ballroom with bingo also held in the facility. The Astor hosted the East Clare Drama Festival up until the mid 1980s.
The Clare Echo understands that the building on the main street of Scariff is currently in private ownership. Approaches have been made on an individual basis in the past regarding the prospect of a new use for the Astor but it is felt within Scariff that a community approach may be more successful.
“It beholds us to bring this building back from the dead, currently it is dead, it used to be heart of the town and it could be again,” Eoin O’Hagan stated.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, the Scariff Bay Community Radio presenter highlighted its potential use as a performance space, for local groups, the drama festival, schools, as an art centre or for remote working.
He added, “Potentially it could be a huge thing for the community of East Clare to have the cinema back. People will say about the asbestos on roof but that has been dealt with before by specialists. Another issue people will highlight in parking in Scariff. We have lots of parking in Scariff, we just have issues with people who abandon cars and are not parking properly”.
Public ownership of the facility needs to be explored, Eoin believed. “It could become a huge thing for the town.” he stated and referenced the expected increase in visitors to East Clare once the Shannon Greenway is completed. “People met and married in the dance hall,” he noted of the Astor’s history.