Tree cheers for Mulligan’s

One of the greatest actors of the English stage, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, became a good friend of James Mulligan, owner of Mulligan’s (1875-1931).

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Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree

Tree toured widely and founded the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1904. One of his grandchildren was the film actor, Oliver Reed.

Tree and his daughter, Viola, appeared in plays at the Theatre Royal, Dublin, in November 1904. One of these was a command performance before King Edward and Queen Alexandra.

A silk banner on which the programme is printed is preserved behind a glass mount in Mulligan’s front lounge.

The actual programme itself, which was handed out to audience members, was described in detail in a report in the Freeman’s Journal, 27, April, 1904:

The souvenir programme for Thursday night –”command night” – at the Theatre Royal has been issued. The cover in peacock blue is printed with silver lettering with the Royal arms, and except for the customary satire on the Union – the rose, thistle, and shamrock growing on the one tree- is excellently designed, the curving lines being graceful in form. It is neatly knotted with silk ribbon, which enriches the appearance of the cover. The inside contents are nearly printed. There are first-rate portraits of King Edward and his Queen. In front is a photograph of the find frontage of the theatre. The cast is printed in two columns in large and clear type, and the pieces, as already announced, are “Richard II” the first act of “Trilby” and the first act of “The Last of the Dandies”. Photographs of the company are also given and are artistically grouped. The programme was designed and printed in Dublin.

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Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree appearing as Richard II in a contemporary postcard.

Tree’s daughter, Viola, appeared in ‘Trilby’. A report by ‘The Bystander’ of her personality appeared in the Freeman’s Journal on 2 May, 1904, and was less than flattering:

As a child, Miss Tree wilfully expressed her disinclination to go on the stage; and being once asked by a friend if she meant to be an actress when she grew up, answered, with a pout, ‘No, I mean to marry’.

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Viola Tree

One day she requested her father to give her a pony. ‘But I can’t afford one, dear,’ he replied gravely. ‘Then, do be quick and learn to act better,’ retorted the little maiden, ‘so that you might be able to buy one.’

Miss Tree’s unusual height makes her a distinguished figure wherever she goes, though in manner she is disposed to be reserved and somewhat silent. A story is told that once at a party, a stranger from the country asked Sir Frank Barnard, ‘Who is the shy six-footer?’ ‘Oh, one of the Trees,’ he promptly replied.

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