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Royal Dublin Society

The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) was founded on 25 June 1731 to "to promote and develop agriculture, arts, industry, and science in Ireland".[1] The RDS is synonymous with its main premises in Ballsbridge in Dublin. These premises include the "RDS Arena", "RDS Simmonscourt", "RDS main hall" and other venues which are used regularly for exhibitions, concerts and sporting events, including regular use by the Leinster Rugby team.[2]


Name and origins

The society was originally founded by members of the Dublin Philosophical Society, chiefly Thomas Prior and Samuel Madden, as the 'Dublin Society for improving Husbandry, Manufactures and other Useful Arts'. On 8 July 1731 - a couple of weeks after initial foundation - the designation 'and Sciences' was added to the end of its name.[3]

The stated aim of the "Dublin Society" was therefore to promote the development of arts, agriculture, industry and science in Ireland. The "Royal" prefix was adopted in 1820 when George IV became Society patron.[4]


The society purchased Leinster House, home of the Duke of Leinster, in 1815 and founded a natural history museum there.[5] The society acquired its current premises at Ballsbridge in 1879, and has since increased from the original fifteen to forty acres (60,000 to 160,000 m²). The premises consist of a number of exhibition halls (at the "RDS main hall"), a stadium (the "RDS arena"), meeting rooms, bars, restaurants, and a multi purpose venue named "RDS Simmonscourt Pavilion".

The RDS main hall is a major centre for exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events in Dublin. It hosts for example the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition each January.

The Simmonscourt Pavilion has a capacity of approximately 7,000, and hosted the Meteor Music Awards in February 2008, as well as a number of concerts including The Smashing Pumpkins' and Avril Lavigne, and two Eurovision Song Contests, in 1981 and in 1988. Simmonscourt is where the show jumping horses are stabled during Dublin Horse Show week.

RDS Arena

The RDS Arena (more commonly known simply as the RDS) was developed to host equestrian events, including the annual Dublin Horse Show. It is often used for other sporting events however - primarily football and rugby. Between September 1990 and April 1996 it was used for home games of Shamrock Rovers football club, on 19 February 1992 it played host to a home game between the Republic of Ireland national football team and Wales, and hosted the 2007 and 2008 FAI Cup finals.

In 2007 and 2008 the arena's capacity was expanded to 18,250 (with additional seated stands being built), and the venue is now used by the Leinster Rugby team for home games. The club also moved their Leinster Rugby Store to the RDS (between the two parade rings), and it is open on match days.

The covered Anglesea Stand is the oldest stand in the ground below which there is a small amount of terracing. Opposite the Anglesea Stand is the Grandstand which contains the TV gantry and was covered with a roof in 2008. Beind the goals are the uncovered North and South stands which are removed for showjumping events to allow for extra space.

The DART runs close to the RDS premises with Lansdowne and Sandymount being the closest stops. The RDS is serviced by bus route numbers 4, 4A, 5, 7 and 45, which stop outside the Main Hall Entrance to the RDS on Merrion Road.


Dublin Horse Show

The first solely Society-run Horse Show was held in 1868 and was one of the earliest "leaping" competitions ever held. Over time it has become a high profile International show jumping competition, national showing competition and major entertainment event in Ireland. In 1982 the RDS hosted the Show Jumping World Championships and incorporated it into the Dublin Horse Show of that year.


In recent years the venue has been used as a performance venue for numerous rock, heavy metal and pop bands. These have included Metallica (2003, 2004 and 2006), and My Chemical Romance, Take That, Iron Maiden, The Eagles, Queen, Bon Jovi, Slipknot, Korn, Linkin Park, Guns N' Roses, The Darkness, Tenacious D, Stereophonics and more.

Other popular acts such as McFly, Fall Out Boy, Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, Shirley Bassey, Gwen Stefani, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Britney Spears, George Michael, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, and Rihanna have all played the RDS Arena. In June 2008 American band Paramore played their debut Irish concert in the RDS Arena. Bruce Springsteen has played there five times since 1988, including during "The Rising Tour" in 2003, May 2008 as part of the "Magic Tour"[6], and returned in July 2009 as part of the forthcoming "Working on a Dream Tour"[7].

  • Bruce Springsteen played to 40,000 people on The Rising Tour in May 2003. He returned to play to 115,500 people at the arena during The Magic Tour in May 2008. He returned once again in July 2009 during the Working On A Dream Tour to an audience of 80,000+.
  • P!nk is set to play the Arena in June 2010 as part of her Funhouse Summer Carnival Tour.
  • Paul McCartney is set to play on June 12th as part of his Up and Coming Tour.


In 2005, the RDS hosted a WWE SmackDown event as part of the WWE Summerbash tour of Europe. The event featured wrestlers such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena, Kurt Angle, and Rey Mysterio.

Rugby Union

The RDS is the home of Leinster Rugby. The RDS hosts Leinster's home matches in the Magners League and the Heineken Cup as well as some pre-season games. In March 2009, the final of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup was played in the RDS due to the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road, its traditional venue. An autumn international between Ireland and Fiji was played 21 November 2009.[8]

Association Football

Shamrock Rovers F.C. played their home matches at the RDS stadium between 1990 and 1996, including against Górnik Zabrze in the 1994–95 UEFA Cup. The stadium hosted an international between the Republic of Ireland and Wales in February 1992; the 1994 UEFA Under-16 Championships; the FAI Cup Final in 2007 and 2008; and the 2008–09 UEFA Cup match between St Patrick's Athletic and Hertha Berlin.[9] St. Pat's also played Steaua Bucureşti in the Arena on 27 August 2009 in the Play-off round of the opening season of the Europa League.


In 1983, the Ireland team played in the World Group of the Davis Cup for the only time. The match against a United States team including John McEnroe was played in the RDS rather than the usual venue, Fitzwilliam, to accommodate crowds of 6,000 each day.[10]


The RDS holds the University College Dublin exams before Christmas and in May/June, and Trinity College Dublin exams in April, among others.

See also

  • List of Irish organisations with royal patronage
  • RDS Arena


  1. "Foundation: Advancing Agriculture, Arts, Industry and Science". Royal Dublin Society. http://www.rds.ie/home/index.aspx?id=11. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  2. "RDS in multi-million deal to host Leinster matches". Sunday Business Post. December 10, 2006. http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2006/12/10/story19543.asp. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  3. The Royal Dublin Society. Ireland: Iona Print Ltd. 1978. 
  4. Royal Dublin Society, The; James Meenan, Desmond Clarke (1981). RDS, The Royal Dublin Society, 1731-1981. Ireland: Gill and Macmillan. p. 30. ISBN 9780717111251. [1]
  5. John James M'Gregor, Picture of Dublin, C.P. Archer, Dublin, 1821. p. 41
  6. ""Bruce Springsteen rocks the RDS…"". Hot Press. 2008-05-23. http://www.hotpress.com/news/4587427.html. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  7. ""Bruce Springsteen Working On A Dream Tour Dates 2009"". Pop Crunch magazine website. 2009-01-27. http://www.popcrunch.com/bruce-springsteen-working-on-a-dream-tour-dates-2009. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  8. Watterson, Johnny (16 May 2009). "RDS to host Fiji for debut on international rugby stage". The Irish Times. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2009/0516/1224246700360.html. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  9. StPatsFC.com - Match Report
  10. "1980's - Matt Doyle and Sean Sorenson". Tennis Ireland. http://www.tennisireland.ie/about_us/history_of_tennis_ireland/home_history_of_tennis_ireland_1980_s_matt_doyle_and_sean_sorenson. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 

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