It was announced today that the board of the famed Abbey Theatre has begun looking for a new director! Officials at the theatre plan on appointing someone by this summer to succeed current director Fiach Mac Conghail at the end of 2016.
But how much do you actually know about this guy with “the most high-profile, influential, widely admired, endlessly criticised, lonely and potentially rewarding job in Irish theatre”? Here are five fun facts to get you started:
1. He’s a Senator.
And an Independent one. Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed Mac Conghail to Seanad Éireann in 2011.
2. Gaelic was his first language.
And his schooling was in Irish until he was seventeen. He has a strong connection to and appreciation for the language, and his children are also being educated in Gaelic.
3. His grandfather was a pretty good landscape artist.
Maurice MacGonigal. Several of his paintings are still around in major galleries such as the Ulster Museum in Belfast.
4. He met his wife through theatre.
She played Rose in Dancing at Lughnasa, a play of which Mac Conghail was an associate producer. The play won a Tony and an Olivier. Mac Conghail and Bríd Ní Neachtain won each other.
5. He dropped out of college, worked at a Burger King in Copenhagen.
What?! But, yes, seriously. He found Ireland too conservative and constricting at the time, so he moved to Denmark and worked at a Burger King. He later returned from this stint and completed his degree at Trinity College in Economics and Politics.
Only time will tell who will follow Mac Conghail as director, but whoever it certainly has interesting shoes to fill.