RTÉ Archives takes a look back at Ireland's national theatre, from the visionaries of the early years to the key productions that defined later decades.

The Abbey Theatre has been producing plays for Irish audiences since 1904. It was founded by writers William Butler Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory. The playwrights associated with its early years include John Millington Synge, whose 'The Playboy of the Western World' caused riots when it premiered in 1907, as did 'The Plough and the Stars' by Sean O'Casey in 1926. 

But the show went on at Ireland's national theatre, even after a devastating fire in 1951. The Abbey relocated to the Queen's Theatre in Pearse Street while a new modern theatre was built on the site of its old Abbey Street premises in Dublin, designed by architecture firm Michael Scott and Partners. The new Abbey Theatre opened in 1966, staging works by a new generation of writers. 

Here we look back at some of these productions, including 'The Sanctuary Lamp' by Tom Murphy, 'Faith Healer' by Brian Friel' and more recently 'By the Bog of Cats' by Marina Carr. Colm Meaney recalls the training he got at the Abbey School of Acting. Also remembered are William Butler Yeats and Annie Horniman, the benefactor without whom the Abbey would not exist.

Photograph courtesy of the Abbey Theatre.