The Druid Story
The story of Druid 1975 to present day
Druid began as a bold idea: to create Ireland’s first professional theatre company outside of Dublin. There were few resources with which to build a theatre company in the West of Ireland in 1975, but through sheer dedication, and with the support of the Galway community, founders Garry Hynes, Marie Mullen and Mick Lally made this bold idea a reality. That reality has since become an international success story of extraordinary dimensions.
NUI Galway graduates, Garry Hynes, Marie Mullen and Mick Lally (1945 – 2010), founded Druid in 1975. The company rehearsed and performed in various buildings around Galway -the Jesuit Hall, Fo’Castle – before finding their home on Druid lane. It was in the first year that Druid produced Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World and in it, found a playwright they would go on to explore and find extraordinary success with at home and abroad.
In 1983, Tom Murphy, an established playwright from Tuam, Co. Galway became Druid’s Writer in Residence. Tom’s relationship with Druid marked an important step for the young company and led to a decades long relationship. Druid and Tom Murphy presented many productions together including the world premiere of Bailegangaire (1985), featuring Siobhan McKenna in her final dramatic role, DruidMurphy – Plays by Tom Murphy (2013), a trilogy of Tom’s works Conversations on a Homecoming, A Whistle in the Dark and Famine and the world premiere of Brigit (2014).
In 1996 Druid premièred Martin McDonagh’s debut work The Beauty Queen of Leenane, in a co-production with the Royal Court Theatre. It opened in Galway and played in London, Sydney, Dublin, and New York. During its Broadway run, the production won four Tony Awards, including Best Director for Garry Hynes, the first woman to win an award for directing in the history of the Tony's. In 1997, Druid toured The Leenane Trilogy (in a co-production with the Royal Court) in which The Beauty Queen of Leenane was joined by the premieres of McDonagh’s plays – A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West.
In 2005, DruidSynge, the companies production of all six of John Millington Synge’s plays as a day-long theatrical event, opened at the Galway Arts Festival to critical acclaim. DruidSynge toured to Dublin, Inis Meáin, Edinburgh and the US where the New York Times described it as ‘the highlight not just of my theatregoing year but of my theatregoing life’.
In 2015, Druid presented DruidShakespeare: Richard II, Henry IV (Pts. 1&2), Henry V in a new adaptation by Mark O’Rowe which toured Ireland, the UK and to the prestigious Lincoln Center Festival, New York. This large-scale, ambitious project was followed by DruidShakespeare: Richard III (2018) which opened in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway before a four week run at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and a visit to the Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, New York.
In 2020, Druid presented Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard in a version by Tom Murphy at the Black Box Theatre, Galway and became the first Irish theatre company to live-stream a production to cinemas across Ireland and the UK.
Other successes include: At Black Pig’s Dyke by Vincent Woods (1992); On Raftery’s Hill by Marina Carr (2000); Sive (2002 & 2018), Sharon’s Grave (2003) and The Year of the Hiker (2006) by John B. Keane; The Walworth Farce (2007), The New Electric Ballroom (2009), Penelope (2010) by Enda Walsh; My Brilliant Divorce by Geraldine Aron (2007); Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett which toured nationally and internationally from 2016 to 2018.
While Druid works with a core group of actors, designers and production crew on a consistent basis, at its heart is the working relationship between Garry Hynes and Marie Mullen, one of the most successful and significant actor-director relationships of the modern theatre. Druid founder and actor, Mick Lally, passed away in August 2010 and up until that time had been a part of Druid’s core group of actors.
For over forty years, Druid has presented ground-breaking work, touring extensively across Ireland. The company first won success outside of Ireland at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has since toured to four continents making it one of the most widely toured theatre companies in the English speaking world. Druid continues to present acclaimed work by established, upcoming and new writers, showcasing and celebrating Irish theatre the world over.