University of Galway Theatre Archives

University of Galway has extensive theatre archive holdings. There is a particular focus on the archives of companies such as the Druid Theatre, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe and the Lyric Players’ Theatre in Belfast. The University has recently completed the world’s largest theatre archive digitisation project in creating the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive, and recently added a new archive of the Gate Theatre Dublin. It has published the early minute books of the Abbey Theatre, a database of Shakespeare’s plays in Dublin, 1660-1904, and Belfast, 1820-1900, in addition to other digital collections.

To celebrate our archives, we have posted several short articles on our theatre collections.

Thomas Kilroy's _the Seagull_

Brian Friel's _the Blind Mice_ at the Lyric Players Theatre, Belfast

Arthur Shields, W.B. Yeats and the Abbey Theatre on Tour

Druid Theatre's _Whistle in the Dark_ by Tom Murphy, 1987

Unpublished Flann O'Brien script at the Lyric Players' Theatre

Druid Theatre Company. The archive includes a record of the multi-award winning theatre company whose roots go back to their time in the then University College Galway. Druid have been recognised as world leaders in touring and staging the best of Irish plays and exploring the work of playwrights such as John M. Synge, John B. Keane, Geraldine Aron, Martin McDonagh and Tom Murphy. The Druid Theatre archive catalogue can be viewed here.

The Thomas Kilroy Archive consists of the papers of the celebrated playwright, Thomas Kilroy. Famous especially for his epic history plays such as the 'O'Neill' and, for his relationship with the likes of Field Day Theatre Company – with his work 'Double Cross' – and also for his time as Literary Editor at the Abbey Theatre, Kilroy is one of the giants of 20th Century Irish Theatre. The Kilroy Archive catalogue can be viewed here.

The Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe Archive is the administrative and creative archive of the national Irish Language Theatre of Ireland. Based in Galway, the Taibhdhearc Archive is a comprehensive record of the growth of this Irish language movement within theatre and how the Taibhdhearc has connected and influenced playwrights writing in Irish and also those translating English language works by Irish and international playwrights into Irish. The Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe Archive is catalogued and available for consultation. For information click here

The Lyric Theatre, Belfast Archive is one of the premier cultural and theatrical venues in the North of Ireland and it has been so for over half a century. Founded by Mary O'Malley and with the theatre first based in her home, the Lyric Theatre and Lyric Players would quickly outgrow their first base and establish itself in the heart of Belfast's and the North's cultural heart. Mirroring the Abbey in its founding principles, the Lyric is a theatre of great Yeatsian tradition and offers a detailed account of administrative and creative records of the theatre but also unheralded insights into the correspondence and professional relationships of Mary O'Malley to the theatre community of Ireland. The Lyric Archive catalogue can be viewed here.


The Arthur Shields Archive consists of the papers of the actor and revolutionary Arthur Shields. Steeped in the Abbey tradition, Shields was a regular and one of the much loved members of the Abbey Company in the 1930's and was part of their many touring productions to the United States at that time. The papers offer a great insight into the Abbey Theatre of that time and also a beautiful photographic record of the Abbey, its U.S. tours and also the personal and private life of Arthur Shields. The Shields Family archive catalogue is available here.

The Siobhan McKenna Archive is the archive of one the great actresses of the Irish stage. Remembered so specially for her portrayal of Mommo in Tom Murphy's seminal play, 'Bailegangaire', McKenna was lauded throughout her life for her work in English and Irish. The papers offer a view into the life and career of McKenna and documents exactly why she is so fondly remembered in Irish Theatre. The Siobhan McKenna archive catalogue can be viewed here.

The Galway Arts Festival Archive documents the growth of this festival, again from roots in University College Galway to a festival for the community and city of Galway through to its incredible growth in becoming one of the largest annual multi-disciplinary Arts Festivals in Europe. The Galway Arts Festival is synonymous with exploring Irish culture, identity and tradition through national and world leaders in the Arts. The Galway Arts Festival Archive catalogue can be viewed here.