Galway Arts Festival: Take 3 With Howie the Rookie

Tom Vaughn-Lawlor in Landmark Production's Howie the Rookie.

Tom Vaughn-Lawlor in Landmark Production’s Howie the Rookie.


To celebrate Landmark Productions return to Galway Arts Festival after the magnificent success of Misterman, here on the Galway Arts Festival blog we’re looking at three things that make Howie the Rookie, which Landmark Productions will be bringing to the Festival this summer, simply unmissable. Originally devised as a play for two actors, this updated version will see a solo Tom Vaughn-Lawlor play both Howie and Rookie as they weave their way through the dark underbelly of urban life. 


1. Mark O’Rowe

As well as being one of the leading Irish playwrights of his generation, Mark O’Rowe wrote Intermission one of the most successful  (and darkly hilarious) Irish films of the Noughties and Perrier’s Bounty, both of which starred Cillian Murphy. O’Rowe also co-penned the critically acclaimed and deeply moving Channel Four drama Boy A, which featured a breakout performance from Andrew Garfield, aka, Spiderman. His work on Howie the Rookie has been widely lauded. When it was first performed, the play took the Irish Times/ ESB Theatre Award for Best New Play. O’Rowe was also awarded the prestigious Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for the original Howie the Rookie in 1999.


2. Tom Vaughan-Lawlor

While Tom is perhaps best known for his television work (namely, his electrifying turn as Nidge in RTÉ’s Love/Hate) his is also a highly accomplished stage actor, having graduated with a drama degree from Trinity’s Samuel Beckett Centre before continuing his training at RADA. Tom has featured in many acclaimed productions, including those of Irish classics like Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World, Friel’s Translations and John B. Keane’s The Field. Notably Tom appeared in the title role of The Resistable Rise of Atruro Ui directed by Jimmy Fay at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin for which he won the Best Actor Award in the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2009.


3. Landmark Productions

Since 2003, Landmark Productions have been one of Ireland’s leading theatre producers. Galway Arts Festival was delighted to co-produce with Landmark Misterman, which went on to incredible national and international success. In 2011, Landmark Productions received the Judges Special Award at the Irish Times Theatre Awards for their ‘sustained excellence in programming and for developing imaginative partnerships to bring quality theatre to the Irish and international stage.’ In 2012, Landmark Productions’ The Talk of the Town, written by Emma Donoghue, based on the life of Irish writer Maeve Brennan, saw Catherine Walker take Best Actress and Peter O’Brien Best Costume Design at the Irish Times Theatre Awards. We are very excited to be welcoming Landmark Productions back to Galway once more.


Tickets for Howie the Rookie are on sale now. To avoid disappointment, secure yours by clicking here. To find out more about the play, check out



The Irish Times Theatre Awards 2013: A Great Night for Galway


There’s no better way to kick off this year’s GAF blog than with news of last night’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, which took place at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham to honour what has been another great year for Irish theatre.

Much to the delight of all at GAF, Galway dominated proceedings with DruidMurphy taking Best Production, Little John Nee winning Best Sound Designer for Sparkplug, Marie Mullen taking Best Supporting Actress for her part in Druid’s Conversations on a Homecoming and a richly deserved Special Tribute Award, while Aaron Monaghan took Best Supporting Actor for his work in Conversations on a Homecoming.

Speaking on behalf of himself and GAF’s chief executive John Crumlish, artistic director Paul Fahy said, ‘We are delighted so many great theatre artists from Galway were nominated for the theatre awards and are especially pleased for the accolades paid to Tom Murphy and Marie Mullen. DruidMurphy was an amazing undertaking and so deserving of its awards tonight.’

The GAF team would like to congratulate all the nominees and winners at this year’s Irish Theatre Awards. Here’s to another year of world class Irish productions.

A full list of winners is available from

Take a Bow, Galway Arts Festival 2012

Oh, what a brilliant few weeks it has been. On behalf of all the GAF 2012 team, thank you so very much for your enduring support. Not only has it been another incredibly successful year, we have broken records for attendance across the board. A staggering 30,000 people turned out to see the fantastic Absolut Festival Gallery and a truly phenomenal 160,000 people attended the festival over two weeks. What can we say only a huge and heartfelt thanks. What an inspiration it is to see that despite everything – or perhaps because of it – a real love of the arts still exists in this country.

Over the course of the festival, various teams have been working away to ensure that events and experiences were captured for everyone to enjoy, now and always. GAF TV have been working especially hard, the fruits of which you can check out on their YouTube channel here, where you can enjoy highlights from this year’s festival, like this wonderful look at Macnas’s This Thunderous Heart:

While the two weeks in July when the festival takes place are GAF’s primary focus, work on the festival takes place all year round. For breaking news, exclusive content and to keep in the loop about next year’s preparations, not to mention enjoying the fruits of festivals past including this year’s, be sure to check out our website, our Facebook page and our Twitter feed Over the next few days, we’ll be posting highlights of 2012, which you won’t want to miss.

All that remains is for us to say one final word of thanks to the people of Galway, all our sponsors, our fantastic performers, our volunteers and all of you who supported GAF 2012 in your thousands. Here’s to a record breaking 2013. We’ll leave you with a few exclusive images from this year’s magnificent festival, taken by Colm Hogan. Until next time.

Macnas turn the streets of Galway into a wonderland with This Thunderous Heart.

Artistic Director Paul Fahy basks in the fantastic setting of the Absolut Festival Gallery, which welcomed an amazing 30,000 people through its doors during the 2 weeks of the festival.

Spain’s Kamchatka perform their unique brand of street theatre for delighted on-lookers during GAF 2012.

Where to Begin? Highlights of GAF 2012’s Week One…

Writing in the Irish Times on Thursday, Laurence Mackin said of this year’s festival offerings, ‘An embarrassment of riches, but what else did you expect from the GAF?’ What else indeed. This year’s incredible line up keeps rolling on – check lest you miss out – but here on the GAF blog, we’re going to take a moment to appreciate what has been a magnificent opening week for GAF 2012. In no particular order, here are a few of the many highlights…


Oh, what a night it was in the Big Top on Thursday, when Nile Rodgers and Chic turned the Galway into a 21st century Studio 54. Rapturous cries of recognition from the crowd filled the starry night air as the hits kept coming from David Bowie to Madonna to glorious days of disco. You had to ask yourself, ‘is there anything Nile Rodgers hasn’t produced/written?!’ Even the sun showed up for proceedings. Before the gig, the legendary Mr. Rodgers tweeted to say, ‘Galway is FANTASTIC.’ It’s fair to surmise that the admiration was very much reciprocated, with many revelers declaring Chic to have been the gig of the year.

John Mahoney and Rondi Reed give an acting tour de force in the deeply moving The Outgoing Tide.

The Outgoing Tide

Bruce Graham’s The Outgoing Tide opened in the Town Hall Theatre to rave reviews and standing ovations. Starring John Mahoney and Rondi Reed, stage veterans and actors of immense talent and skill, the play moved audiences to tears. If art is an expression of what it is to be human, then The Outgoing Tide invites us to consider what we would want for ourselves and our loved ones as we and they move ever closer to the twilight of our lives. Powerful, deeply affecting stuff.

David Mach’s Precious Light

The crowds thronging the opening of this year’s Absolut Festival Gallery put paid to the notion that ‘most people don’t visit art galleries’. Simply put, when galleries are easily accessible, beautifully constructed and packed with incredible work as the Absolut Festival Gallery is (and will be through out the festival), people will come in their droves. The centerpiece, David Mach’s Precious Light, invites us to look at how the bible has impacted on our every day lives  and also the entire course of human existence. The Irish Times described Precious Light as ‘epic’, which also applies to the experience of seeing it. Not to be missed.

Artistic Director Paul Fahy with artist David Mach, creator of Precious Light at the Absolut Festival Gallery during its transformation from one time furniture shop to world class gallery.

Christy Moore with Declan Sinnott

After Chic, it was going to take something really special to raise the roof off the Big Top. Thankfully, an Irish man of legendary standing took to the stage on Friday night: the one, the only Christy Moore and what ensued had Twitter alight with praise and joyous outpourings. With support from Four Men and a Dog, Christy played a blinder and the crowd gobbled it up. In the words of a showband man, ‘send them home sweating!’ That’s exactly what the man from Clare did. A triumph.

The Great Goat Bubble

Economics can be hard to grasp. Nevertheless, after the financial turmoil of the past few years, more and more people are attempting to wrap their heads around the complexities of the financial markets. The Great Goat Bubble looks to continue that education in economics and reminds us of the dangerous forces at play when we invest everything we have in the pursuit of unlikely riches. Playwright, novelist and one time Galway resident, Julian Gough comes up with a novel device to explain the intricacies of the market: goats, which you can trade, sell and of course, buy far too much of at exaggerated, unsustainable prices. A cautionary tale if there ever was one, packed with wit and insight, The Great Goat Bubble (playing at the Druid Theatre) was a winner with audiences  and critics this week.

What do goats have to do with our economic collapse? All will be revealed in the Great Goat Bubble by Julian Gough.

We could, as Mrs Doyle might say, go on and on and on – but we won’t. Plenty of time to blow our own trumpet before the festival is out. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who has enjoyed the festival so far. We hope you continue to do so. For those of you who haven’t managed to sample the delights, there’s only one question to ask: what are you waiting for? GAF 2012 won’t be around forever! Check out and enjoy yourself.

Watch It: GAF TV

A GAF TV screenshot of the Misterman set.

With so much packed into the two weeks of Galway Arts Festival every single year, keeping track and preserving all those special moments is a mammoth task. Thankfully, GAF TV have been doing a stellar job of capturing the magic on film and now, for your viewing pleasure, the GAF archive is available online.

If there’s anything you’ve missed or a favourite festival memory you’d like to relive, then spend some quality time flicking through the gems on For this year’s latest GAF TV reports, including an exclusive interview with Chic’s legendary Nile Rodgers, check out or click on the clips below, featuring comedian and star of RTÉ’s the Savage Eye Dave McSavage, artist David Mach whose exhibition Precious Light is taking the festival by storm and Michael Kaeshammer, one of Canada’s brightest musical exports.

For more of GAF TV and all things festival related, check out

The Magic of Macnas

Galway may sit on the western seaboard of a little island nation but culturally its reach and significance traverse the planet. Names like the Beauty Queen of Leenane, Misterman, Galway Arts Festival and Druid have not just local recognition but global recognition on a glittering scale that other cities of a similar size can only dream of.

Galway is different. Artistically, magical things happen here and then take flight. In recent years there has been perhaps no greater Galway success story than the rise and rise of the ground breaking, truly awe-inspiring Macnas, who, since their inception in 1986 have transformed street performance and parades into part fairytale, part mystical events whose visual delights and stunning artistry, make wide-eyed children of us all.

This year’s Macnas parade takes place on Saturday, July 22nd. This Thunderous Heart, directed by Noeline Kavanagh is sure to turn the streets of Galway into a world class spectacle. If you haven’t experienced a Macnas performance before, well what are you waiting for? Last year’s This Fierce Beauty garnered rave reviews and 2012 is sure to delight on the same scale. Macnas is something all the family can enjoy but be warned: get there in plenty of time as the streets will be thronged. For more info and to check out everything GAF-related, go to and enjoy.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures taken by the blog team at last year’s Macnas parade, entitled This Fierce Beauty:

Misterman: An Astonishing Journey Continues

It is difficult to believe it has been almost a year since the debut of Enda Walsh’s Misterman, starring Cillian Murphy, during Galway Arts Festival 2011. If you were fortune enough to have been in audience for those shows, you’ll know what it feels like to see an instant classic unfold before your eyes: simply unforgettable.

A GAF co-production with Landmark Productions, Misterman has gone on to take the theatrical world by storm, earning rave reviews from Galway to New York and now London, where the play has opened to massive acclaim at the National Theatre. It runs until May 28th. We’re delighted that Misterman has been hailed an unmissable triumph by the likes of the Guardian, the New York Times, the Stage and many other print and online publications, too numerous to list here (we wouldn’t have the space!)

If you’ve been lucky enough to see Misterman, we’d love to know what you thought of the production. For more info on the play and how you can see it, check out

Here’s a little taster of Misterman from last year…

  • Click to follow the GAF blog and receive notifications of new posts and exclusive content by email.

  • Categories

  • Join the conversation on GAF Twitter

    Error: Please make sure the Twitter account is public.

  • GAF Facebook

  • Advertisements