About the Lyric Theatre

Increasing Access to the Arts

This short video clip gives a flavour of the vital work that the Lyric does with young people from across the communities in Northern Ireland.



A shared passion for theatre, poetry and the arts gave birth to the Lyric Players in 1951, marking the beginnings of one of the most significant movements in Ireland's cultural history. Creativity and vision knew no bounds as the company defied the confines of space to stage an inspiring and innovative range of verse plays at the home of founding members Dr Pearse and Mary O'Malley. In 1952 a studio space was developed in a narrow, converted stable loft and over the next sixteen years the group and its activities rapidly expanded to include regular poetry recitals, lectures, art exhibitions, a crafts gallery, publishing and a music and drama school for children.

The foundation stone for the Lyric's first purpose-built theatre was laid in 1965, the Centenary year of the birth of W B Yeats. 'Look Up in the Sun's Eye' was engraved above the entrance. The line was taken from a Yeats poem in which he defends great art against the philistines. The visionary founders of the Lyric were motivated by the fundamental belief that society needs accessible spaces in which artists can have the courage of their convictions and be allowed to soar.



Based on the banks of the River Lagan in Belfast, the Lyric is uniquely positioned as Northern Ireland's only full-time producing theatre. The company presents a distinctive, challenging and entertaining programme of the finest in new writing alongside contemporary and classic plays by Irish, European and American writers. The theatre attracts audiences of over 74,000 each year, of which nearly one-third are young people under the age of 25. The Lyric has nurtured the creative talents of many of Ireland's finest and best loved actors, including Oscar nominated Liam Neeson, Ciaran Hinds and Toni award winner Conleth Hill. Discovering more young talent every year, the Lyric helps the stars of the future to shine.

Working with young people has been at the heart of the Lyric's remit since the company was founded in 1951. Northern Ireland has a highly segregated education system, with 95% of pupils attending either a maintained (Catholic) school or a controlled school (mostly Protestant). The Lyric's arts-based education programs create unique opportunities for young people to interact together outside traditional community boundaries. Participation in, and enjoyment of, drama teaches the importance of team spirit and discipline. It encourages the development of creativity and self confidence, and allows young people to explore important issues in a safe and supportive environment. Drama is a means to forging lifelong friendships that transcend religious, social and cultural divides and this is essential to building a peaceful and prosperous future.

An innovative community program is also helping to remove barriers to participation in the arts for traditionally marginalised groups. The Lyric's creative learning team works in some of the most disadvantaged communities in Belfast and Northern Ireland and has toured live theatre productions into prisons as part of an anti-sectarian program.

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For more information about the Lyric, visit