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



Glen Hansard’s ‘Pluck of the Irish’.

The Glen Hansard documentary entitled ‘Pluck of the Irish’ aired on CBS on Saint Patrick’s Day and was very warmly received.

‘Pluck of the Irish’ is an intimate, moving look at Glen’s life and career and a must-see for Frames fans and anyone with an interest in Irish music. We’re delighted to share the documentary above and we say well done to the crew at CBS for putting together such a lovely account of Glen and his work to date. Enjoy.

Glen Hansard will play this year’s Festival Big Top on July 25th. To secure your tickets, click here.

Not Over Yet: Sam Amidon at Galway Arts Festival

It is hard to believe after all the energy and triumphs of the past few weeks that Sunday, July 29th is finally here but while the end maybe near GAF 2012 is a long way from winding down. Tonight, folk star Sam Amidon plays the Róisín Dubh at 9.30pm. Sam’s live shows are very special events, mixing video, stories and reworkings of old and not so old music to create a unique audio visual experience. The Guardian has described Sam’s performances as ‘startling, moving stuff’, so don’t waste your Sunday night, get down to the Róisín Dubh. Sam’s support acts come in the shape of Dublin’s Spook of the Thirteenth Lock whose critically acclaimed album The Brutal Here and Now was released last April, plus RM Hubbert. For more info, check out:

Sam’s brand of folk is the perfect accompaniment to your Sunday morning coffee, so why not take a moment to savour his track, Saro:


Let’s Dance: Kormac’s Big Band at GAF 2012

Tonight DJ Kormac and his Big Band take to the stage in the Róisín Dubh for what promises to be the perfect way to spend your Saturday night. The Big Band comprises of a barbershop quartet, drums, double base, trombone, clarinet, trumpet and banjo, with Kormac acting as conductor, possibly the only conductor you’re ever likely to see scratching records while he works. The results are energetic, fun and an unforgettable live experience, so polish up your dancing shoes and let the good times roll. Kormac’s Big Band kick off at 10.30pm in the Róisín Dubh tonight – write it down folks! In the meantime for your viewing pleasure, here is a GAF  TV look at Kormac and the band:

GAF Classical: T’ang Quartet

Fans of classical music are in for a treat this Saturday, July 28th, when T’ang Quartet play Saint Nicholas’s Church. Formed in 1992 , T’ang Quartet are Ang Chek Meng, Ng Yu-Ying, Leslie Tan and Lionel Tan. The quartet takes its name from both its founding members but also the Tang Dynasty, referencing the era’s golden age of artistic expression.

The T’ang Quartet blend Eastern and Western influences, reinterpreting classic works for the modern age. Their show Comedy and Tragedy combines film and music, including the Buster Keaton classic Haunted House,which the quartet will accompany. The programme also includes Aulis Sallinen’s Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik’s Funeral March and the Chinese composer Bright Sheng’s String Quartet No.3.

Classical fans will not want to miss this one. For tickets and more info, check out If you fancy a quick break at your desk, here is a clip of the T’ang Quartet in action. Prepare to be mesmerized:

GAF 2012: Keywest in Monroes on July 28th

Live music has always been a key part of the Galway Arts Festival line up and this year is no different. Next Saturday, 28th July, Dublin band Keywest play Monroes. After forming in a shed in Artane just a few years ago, the lads have completed the critically acclaimed album The Message, played on national TV and radio and on stage for the likes of Oxegen and Arthur’s Day, plus they were nominated for a 2010 Meteor Award for Most Promising Act. Fans of rocky pop will not want to miss this one nor should anyone who likes good live tunes with their pint. We’ve got a few clips of the Keywest lads in action below and don’t forget to check out for more info.

Think Differently: The Trailblazery presents Trailblaze at Galway Arts Festival

Trailblaze is a unique event, taking place at NUI Galway’s Aula Maxima at 8.30pm on Saturday July 28th . If you’ve ever longed to make your corner of the world that little bit better but had no idea of how to begin, then Trailblaze might just provide the inspiration and guidance you’re looking for.  Showcasing ideas, action and creativity, Trailblaze brings together a group of social pioneers including activists, musicians, educators, social entrepreneurs, provocateurs and artists from all kinds of backgrounds and persuasions. For a flavour of what to expect, take a look at the profiles below:

Trailblazer's Dylan HaskinsDublin born Dylan Haskins may only be twenty five but he has packed a great deal into his young years. Dylan unsuccessfully ran for office in the 2011 general election but his campaign attracted huge national and international attention. It wasn’t the first time Dylan had turned heads. A few years earlier, his former home became known as the Hideaway House, a venue for intimate music gigs and Dylan’s label Hideaway Records, which released the debut album of the band Heathers, whose single I Remember When has since become synonymous with Bord Failte advertising. In the past, Dylan has worked closely with the Project Arts Centre to develop a number of exhibitions and debates. He also finds the time to broadcast on the likes of RTÉ’s Arena.

Colm O’Gorman is the executive director of Amnesty International, Ireland. A survivor of clerical sex abuse, Colm spoke out about his experiences and went on to form the charity One in Four, which supports women and men who have been sexually abused or who have been the victims of sexual violence. Colm continues to campaign tirelessly for the rights of those abused by the Catholic Church and for the protection of human rights internationally. He has also served in the Seanad.

Sunny Jacobs is an incredible woman. After spending seventeen years in jail for a crime she did not commit, she found the strength to forgive and to forge a new life for herself in the West of Ireland. In 1976, Sunny and her partner were wrongly implicated in the murder of two policemen. Like Sunny, Jesse Tafero was sentenced to death. He subsequently died in a horrific botched execution. By the time Sunny’s conviction was overturned, her little children were fully fledged adults who barely remembered her while her parents had died in a tragic airplane crash. Instead of riling against the cruelty of those who robbed her of so many precious years, Sunny forgave those who wrongly imprisoned her, wrote a book about her experiences and began campaigning to eradicate the death penalty, a cause she continues to fight for to this day.

Dylan, Colm and Sunny are just a few of the inspiring people featured in the Trailblazery’s Trailblaze, which is sure to be a very special event. For more info on it and everything GAF related, check out

She’s the One: Lisa Hannigan Plays the Big Top

Lisa Hannigan plays the festival Big Top on Thursday, July 26th with James Vincent McMorrow and Elaine Mai.

Lisa Hannigan has come a long way from the shy, beguiling girl who lent her stunning vocals to the Damien Rice’s juggernaut album, O. Lisa took her time before stepping into the spotlight solo, quietly honing her craft away from the media glare. A few years later, her caution paid off in spectacular fashion. Her debut album Sea Sew was a critical and commercial success, turning Lisa into one of the biggest artists in Irish contemporary music. Similar success followed with her second album Passenger, which spawned the feel good hits What’ll I Do? and Knots.

Lisa has been nominated for the Choice and Mercury music awards and has played to rapturous reviews everywhere from the UK to the US. We are very proud of her. Lisa recently supported the Frames in LA and will be touring with former Pulp member Richard Hawley, who she memorably sang with during RTÉ’s Other Voices series, covering Hushabye Mountain to spine-tingling effect. Lisa is known for playing intimate gigs but as her fan base has grown, so has her confidence as a performer so seeing her take to Big Top stage after her incredible successes to date will be something very, very special indeed.

Lisa will play the Big Top on July 26th, along with James Vincent McMorrow, another Irish musician creating major waves plus up-and-coming Galway girl Elaine Mai, who is hotly tipped for great things. This is a powerhouse of a line-up and tickets, unsurprising, are selling fast. To get yours and for more info on all things GAF related, check out right now.

We’ll leave you with a few of Lisa’s best bits, of which there are so many it made choosing three almost impossible…

Food for Thought : GAF 2012’s Trad Lunchtimes

Making time to treat yourself and get away from it all is difficult in this twenty four seven world of ours, especially during the working day when most people eat lunch at their desk if they eat it at all. Isn’t it about time you stepped away from the computer and made the most of your down time? We certainly think so.

Here at GAF 2012, we have an excellent way for you to unwind during your lunch hour: treat yourself to a Trad Lunchtime in Monroes (they have incredible pizza there too, so if you’re feeling peckish…). It’s scientific fact that good tunes help us relax and improve our mood, so you’ll be skipping rather than trudging back to work. For those of you lucky enough to be heading off to sample more of the amazing GAF 2012 lineup after your lunchtime session, we say ‘enjoy!’

Here’s what you can expect from Trad Lunchtimes this week:

Thursday 26th July, David Munnelly and John Kilkenny    

Mayo natives David and John duel it out on the box and the fiddle, trad style. David has travelled all over the world playing music, most notably with the Chieftains. He and John are sure to add a musical highlight to your Thursday afternoon, so order a coffee and soak up the tunes.

Friday 27th July, Verena Cummins, Julie Langan and Padraig O’Brian

Fiddle, accordion and guitar combine to make a special lunchtime gig. Verena is well known for her skilful accordion playing. She and Julie (on the fiddle) have recorded together in the past, which makes this one time reunion all the more exciting. Padraig joins Verena and Julie on guitar.

Saturday 28th July, Tara Connaghan and Derek McGinley

Donegal’s finest Tara and Derek bring the music of their beautiful native county to life. Both are accomplished fiddle players, so you can order a side of great tunes to go with your sandwiches and tea. Perfect.

For more info on Trad Lunchtimes and for ticket purchases, check out to avoid disappointment.

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.

  • 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