abbey theatre - Abbey Theatre; abbey theatre - Dublin playhouse built by Miss A. E. E. Horniman (q.v.) for the Irish National Theatre Society. The Irish Literary Theatre was founded in 1898 with the object of producing plays of Irish life of a kind not commonly seen on the commercial stage. In 1903 it developed into the Irish National Theatre, producing at St. George's Hall, London, plays by W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. In 1904 Miss Horniman opened the Abbey Theatre in Dublin for the free use of the I.N.T.S. Here the plays of Yeats, Edward Martyn, "A. E." (George Russell), George Moore, Padraic Colum,Lady Gregory, Douglas Hyde, and Norreys Comiell attracted an interested public. The fame of the Abbey Theatre spread with the production of J. M. Synge's plays of Irish peasant life, e.g. The Shadow of the Glen, Riders to the Sea, The Well of the Saints, and The Playboy of the Western World. Sean O'Casey contributed to some of the theatre's greatest successes with his Juno and the Paycock (1924) and The Plough and the Stars (1926). Other dramatists represented in the theatre included Lennox Robinson, St. John Ervine, Bernard Shaw, Denis Johnston, and Paul Vincent Carroll.