Artist Patrons

The extended Youth Theatre Ireland family is a large one, and so often we hear Irish actors, writers, directors and producers talk of starting out in youth theatre. The message is often, if not always, about the transformative power of these experiences. This is also Youth Theatre Ireland's message, and our Artist Patrons are ambassadors for that message.


Aidan Gillen

star of HBO dramas, The Wire and Game of Thrones:

Youth theatre had a huge impact on my life. It was my life from the age of fourteen to seventeen, and I spent every spare hour in 23 Upper Gardiner Street (the home of Dublin Youth Theatre). I met some great people and fluked into a world that I wouldn’t have come across—acting and theatre—that has now become my life. It defined and formed me, and what I do.

Mark O’Rowe

playwright and screenwriter responsible for films such as Intermission and the BAFTA award winning Boy A:

The first plays I ever got paid to write were for youth theatre. I was extremely pleased with the finished productions, particularly the level of performances, but I suppose what impressed me most was the truly collaborative way [the] companies operated… their confidence… their maturity and their generosity, qualities which they’d obviously cultivated through their regular participation in these groups, and qualities which, I’ve believed for a long time now, are among the most essential, not only to any creative artist, but to the pursuit of any worthwhile endeavour. It is in providing and nurturing this kind of environment… that I feel Youth Theatre Ireland is of inestimable value.

Eileen Walsh

award-winning stage and screen actress:

I went to Geraldine O’Neill’s youth theatre in Cork (now Activate Youth Theatre) and that was my start in acting. It was a huge learning curve. Everything I learned with Ger, I went on to solidify in Trinity College but actually all the ground rules—how to find the character and explore dialogue and script—all that kind of stuff is very much in youth theatre anyway and it really enabled us to go forward and be brave enough to take (theatre) on at college and not find it intimidating.

I think youth theatre is hugely important for confidence, for discovering ourselves, and each other, and building friendships. To turn up and commit to something is a huge ask for a teenager, but actually, you’re committing with your heart. You’re committing with a lot more than just parental pressure or anything else. It is a choice to be there and that fills you with a huge love for something. Youth theatre gives people a chance to have that experience.

Peter Sheridan

writer, theatre director, playwright, screenwriter, and film director:

When I was fifteen, my younger brother, Frankie, died of a brain tumour. My Da took to the bed and didn’t get up for six months. When he did, he started a drama group… I was hooked from the get go. It seemed that the world of the plays was the same as the world of our family. Rather than drama being a retreat, an escape, it seemed to me like it was a mechanism for facing up to the world. When the character of Juno cried out at her son being taken away from her, it felt like she was a surrogate for my own mother. The drama somehow helped us to square up to tragedy and look it in the eye. I knew from that very first encounter that I had discovered a bit of magic and I was determined not to let it go.

We extend our warmest gratitude to all of our Artist Patrons for sharing their experiences and for their ongoing support for our work.

Banner Photo: Ros Kavanagh

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UCC Youth Theatre is back on Tues 19th Jan for its weekly online classes with Julie O’Leary – open to young people……

14 January