|Garry Hynes was this week awarded the Freedom of Galway City, becoming the first Irish woman to receive this prestigious award. Hynes is the 25th freeperson on a roll of honour that stretches back to former president of Ireland Douglas Hyde and includes Seán T Ó Ceallaigh, John Hume, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. The first woman to be so conferred was former US first lady Hillary Clinton, and second was Burmese pro-democracy detainee Aung San Suu Kyi. At yesterday evening's ceremony, Hynes expressed support for the activist and appealed for her immediate release from house arrest.|
Hynes told The Irish Times that it was an "extraordinary honour, and the greatest to get when it is from your own place". She holds honorary degrees from NUI Galway, Dublin University (TCD) and the National Council for Educational Awards. "But this one makes me terribly, terribly proud." In awarding the Freedom of the City at a ceremony in Galway's Town Hall Theatre on Thursday 15th June, Mayor Brian Walsh remarked that this was the highest honour that the City could bestow on one of its Citizens and he had given a lot of consideration to honouring a Galwegian in this way. " I don't believe we could identify a person more deserving of this great honour. Garry Hynes has committed most of her life to artistic endeavour and her work has served this City in a very positive way. Garry has put Druid and Galway on the map and has helped develop and cement Galway's international reputation as a leading centre of excellence for theatre and art"
He added "Garry Hynes is one of Ireland's most esteemed theatre directors. She has the distinction of being the first woman in history to win a Tony Award for Best Director of a Play for her 1998 production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, which won a total of four Tony awards and has toured the world."
"One of Garry's recent triumphs has been the awe-inspiring Druid Synge project. This marathon staging of all six of Synge's plays on the same day was described by Critics as one of 'the greatest achievements in the history of Irish theatre', who also described Garry Hynes as the most exciting contemporary interpreter of Synge. "The Druid theatre company is now recognised as one of the pioneers of the modern cultural development in Ireland with its highly successful productions of a number of Irish classics and works by contemporary playwrights. Garry has been constantly innovative, creative and ambitious and is known as a director of enormous credibility and talent who has helped Druid go from strength to strength."
About Garry Hynes
Garry Hynes was a founding member of Druid Theatre Company in 1975 and has been the company's Artistic Director from 1975 to 1991 and again from 1995 to date. Within a few years of its existence, the Druid Theatre Company developed an ambitious repertoire and became known for its dynamic style.
Garry has made an enormous contribution to theatre at home and overseas. The major projects Garry Hynes and Druid have undertaken, continually break new ground. Garry Hynes has been commended for her 'skilful revival and spirited direction' of plays by M.J. Molloy and Dion Boucicaul and for approaching the classic works of Synge and Wilde with new vision and energy.
The many awards Garry has received reflect the quality, depth and success of the productions she has directed. Her awards include Director of the Year, a Time Out Award for Direction and a People of the Year Award. She has received three Honorary Doctorates for her services to the Irish theatre from the National University of Ireland, the National Council of Education and the third from Dublin University. She is also the recipient of numerous theatre awards including the Edinburgh Fringe First and Harvey's Irish Theatre award. She received the Irish Times/ESB award for Best Director for her production of Sive and The Good Father
Mayor of Galway Brian Walsh's speech
It is with great pride that the City of Galway today celebrates Garry Hynes, the pre-eminent figure in contemporary Irish Theatre whose work has brought honour and glory to Galway and to Ireland and whose art has illuminated our lives and asserted our humanity.
We add the Freedom of our City to the many honours bestowed on Garry and Druid over the last three decades.
It seems a long time since that summer morning in 1975 when Garry Hynes, Marie Mullen and Mick Lally put their heads together in Peggy's coffee shop in UCG and founded Druid. The thirty plus years following have seen remarkable changes in Galway. The revolution of the imagination that was incontestably started by Druid led to a series of major arts projects of innovation, attitude and panache that breathed fresh life into our city. Through their efforts Galway became widely recognised as the crucible of Irish creativity, the place where art had real meaning and relevance for everyone.
Truly groundbreaking, Druid was the first professional theatre company to be established in Ireland outside Dublin. As Artistic Director Garry went on to produce and direct over three decades of classics and new writing. Under Garry - a director of integrity and strength with a mastery of technique and language and a powerful sense of the physical - Druid rewrote the script: creating new ways of performing and presenting the classics, encouraging emerging voices, rediscovering the neglected and combining the whole into a thirty year festival of fresh imaginative Galway theatre without equal.
Druid's journey has taken the company from the Jesuit Hall to the Focastle in Dominick St., to Druid's own self-built theatre in Druid Lane and here to the Town Hall, which the company officially launched for the City in 1995. We also saw Druid in Seapoint and Leisureland and on its "unusual rural tours" to the four corners of Ireland and its islands, bringing great theatre within the reach of everyone. And the company has many times travelled to Edinburgh, London, Australia and the United States.
Its imaginative journey ranged from the thatched cottages, famine and bungalow bliss of Tom Murphy to the Shakespeare echoes of John B. Keane, from the woody whispers of MJ Molloy to the queenly complexities of Granuaile and Elizabeth R. in Garry's own play, " Island Protected by a Bridge of Glass" .
Persuasively combining pre- and post-modernism Martin McDonagh's Leenane Trilogy - sensitively encouraged and superbly staged by Druid - refracted the landscape and language of Garry Hynes's lifework, the Synge canon. Never was Synge rethought and reimagined more gloriously than in Garry's triumphant series of masterworks, approaching Synge over many years, honing the productions towards the unsurpassed DruidSynge cycle presented here and on Aran to universal acclaim.
Garry has worked over the years with an outstanding company of actors including Marie Mullen, Mick Lally, Sean McGinley, Ray McBride, Maeliosa Stafford, Paddy Dooley, Siobhan McKenna, Eamonn Morrissey and Anna Manahan. Currently the cream of a remarkable generation of young Irish actors is preparing to take DruidSynge to the United States where Garry made history on Broadway by becoming the first woman to win a best director Tony.
Garry Hynes has accomplished great things with other companies too, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and of course the Abbey Theatre of which she was a spirited and admired Artistic Director.
Today is very special day for the Hynes family, especially for Garry's' mother Carmel and I know it would have been a very special night for Oliver Hynes and Jerome Hynes, Garry's father and brother who sadly are no longer with us. They were two of the finest gentlemen and most accomplished administrators ever to work in education and arts management in Galway and indeed in Ireland. Over many years Galway has hugely benefited from their presence and commitment.
The freedom of the City of Galway is the highest honour that we can bestow. We do so gladly. Garry Hynes has drawn the eyes of the world to the cultural and imaginative richness of Galway. She has provided our city with countless nights of wonder and understanding and she has proved that the art of the west of Ireland can hold its own with the very best in the world.
Garry was recently quoted as saying, " In the theatre today we need to have more of a sense of event, more of a sense of celebration." Tonight Galway City wholeheartedly celebrates the achievement of Garry Hynes.
Cuireann sé an-áthas orm a bheith libh anocht mar Mhéara Chathair na Gaillimhe chun Saoirse na Cathrach a bhronnadh ar Ghearóidín Ní Eidhin. Is bean í Gearóidín atá tar éis cliú agus cáil a tharraingt ar an gCathair seo ó thaobh na drámaíochta de agus mar sin creidim go bhfuil sé in am don Chathair an t-aitheantas is airde a thabhairt ar ais di féin. Ins na seachtódaí agus ochtódaí nuair a bhí an tír seo lag ó thaobh eacnamaíochta, bhí misneach ag muintir na Gaillimhe a spreag ó spiorad na h-ealaíona. Tá go leor don chreidiúint seo ag dul don chomhlacht amharclannaíochta Druid, agus do Ghearóidín féin a bhí taobh thiar di. Maireann an spiorad céanna sa lá atá inniú ann agus is cúis bróid dúinn go bhfuil alán daoine tar éis ionspráid agus misneach a fháil ó éachtaí Ghearóidín.