Jeanne Rathbone

Garry Hynes Theatre Director Galway Woman

Posted in Garry Hynes Theatre Director and Galway Woman by sheelanagigcomedienne on June 20, 2017

Garry Hynes was a co -founder of Druid Theatre Galway and has gone on to be an internationally known theatre director as well as bringing the Druid to wide public acclaim. She had to be one of my Galway women to celebrate in my series.

Garry Hynes award winning theatre director.

According to Vanity Fair

For three decades, Garry Hynes has been Ireland’s most dynamic and fearless theater director. With her company, Druid, based in Galway, in the West of Ireland, she has used her vast imaginative energy to re-interpret the national classics, such as the plays of John Millington Synge and Sean O’Casey. She has also put her talent at the disposal of contemporary writers. She was the first to stage the plays of the young Martin McDonagh, and in 1998 she became the first woman to win a Tony Award for direction, of McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Since the 1980s, Hynes has had a close working relationship with Tom Murphy, ranked with Brian Friel as among Ireland’s greatest living writers. Murphy has been the most restless imagination at work in Irish theater since his second play, A Whistle in the Dark, hit London’s West End, in 1961. He is the artist most of us Irish writers look to for inspiration and example. Thus, it will be fascinating to see three of his plays directed by Hynes at the Lincoln Center Festival, July 5 to 14. The plays deal with loss and emigration, and dramatize illusion and self-delusion. Hynes’s method as a director is forensic: she strips away, using her sharp sense of the abiding power of the theatrical image, cajoling actors toward the emotional and intellectual core of a play. In the past, Hynes and Murphy together have produced the very best of Irish theater. Re-united, they are likely to cause sparks to fly.


I remember Garry, Mick Lally and Marie Mullen from the very early days when she and friends started to stage plays in the tiny room at the back of The Coachman in Dominck Street. of course, they too were in the UCG Drama Society and continued with theur passion for theatre as they stayed on in Galway. It has been fascinating watching the development of Druid over the decades.  Her Playboy of the Western World was unforgettable.

I was born in Ballaghadereen, in county Roscommon, in Ireland. When I was 12 years old, I moved to Galway, my father’s native county. I was the eldest child. My father was a passionate Gaelgóir (Irish speaker). My parents spoke to me in Irish and I spoke mostly Irish until I went to school. Most of the other children spoke English and there was some sort of distance (between us) at school, I wasn’t able to say the Hail Mary. I rebelled against (the language) in an ignorant way and I’m probably the least fluent Irish speaker in my family now. As a child, I cherished my own imaginative hinterland. We are all creatures of our imagination. As a young person, I was taken to see amateur plays; there was, and still is, a very vibrant amateur theatre circuit in Ireland. When I was 18 or 19, in the early 1970s, I went to work on a student visa to New York. I saw theatre off Broadway. Those were great influences.

She was educated at St. Louis Convent Monaghan, the Dominican Convent Galway, and UCG.

She is a co-founder of the Druid Theatre company with Mick Lally and Marie Mullen in 1975 after meeting through the drama society of U.C.G. where they studied.


She was Druid’s artistic director from 1975 to 1991, and again from 1995 to date. Hynes directed for the Abbey theatre from 1984 and was its artistic director from 1991 to 1994, and also the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Exchange Manchester, the Kennedy Center and the Royal Court Theatre, London.

Mick Lally theatre

After 15 years with Druid, I began to feel that it was better for me to leave and I accepted an offer to become artistic director of the Abbey Theatre (Ireland’s national theatre, where Hynes was employed from 1991 to 1994). I moved to Dublin and bought a house there, where I still live. Four years later, Druid asked me to return on a temporary basis and somewhat reluctantly I agreed. I’m still here. Druid has kept me in Ireland. I fell in love with New York when I went there at 18 or 19 – it’s still my second home – but then, with time, and from the outside, I began to see better the kind of supportive place to make theatre that Druid was.


When I came back to Druid, I asked to see the plays that had been submitted while I was away. I was trawling through the backlog when I found Martin McDonagh’s work. He had sent in three of them, including The Beauty Queen of Leenane. All of them stood out. I met his agent and optioned all three of his plays. I thought, “Here was a real writer for the theatre” – he could write brilliant dialogue and he tell a story. The Beauty Queen of Leenaneis an international story and it is a timeless story; it’s about a mother and daughter who are closely tied, a love-hate relationship – it’s a fundamental human story. When I first read the play, I knew immediately that Marie would be right for the part of Maureen. Now she’s playing Mag, the mother. We’re privileged, Marie and me, to have had such a long life together.


We were so glad to get to see the Druid production directed by Garry of Bailegangaire in the Donmar Playhouse in 1986 when Siobhain McKenna and Marie Mullen starred in Tom Murphy’s play. Marie Mullen played Mommo in the later production and , of course, for many she is seen as Siobhain’s successor as Ireland’s greatest stage actresses.

Garry and film producer Martha O’Neill became civil partners at a private ceremony in Galway in 2014.  A small group of family and close friends attended the ceremony at the Mick Lally Druid Theatre in Galway city. Afterwards, the couple hosted their guests at Nimmo’s Ard Nia restaurant alongside Galway’s famous Spanish Arch. As a humanist celebrant who conducted the first ever gay partnership ceremonies in City Hall London I was delighted when I read this. Ireland is a different place to the one I left.


Garry Hynes is very much associated with Galway and its reputation as a cultural city.  President Michael D Higgins, who was also a student at University College Galway in the sixties, would have seen the Druid and Garry evolve over time as he was a Councillor, TD and Galway resident.

I let her know that she was one of the living women to feature in my Notable Galway Women Walk, the response was It sounds like a lovely idea and Garry sends her best wishes.









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