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writer - actor - director

This June two of my plays are part of the Cork Midsummer Festival - I'm directing WHALE at the Opera House and the brilliant people at Graffiti and the Everyman are staging HUMANS: a robot musical.

These projects are supported by Arts Council Theatre Project Award and a YPCE Bursary, the RTE  Toy Show Fund, Cork Opera House, Cork Midsummer Festival and UCC.

I am writing a new play, TOLL, funded by an Agility Award from the Arts Council.

My play The BelleVue was selected for the Pavilion Play Platform in Spring 2021.

I recently wrote and performed in CITY in co-production with the Everyman - the play was part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, supported by Culture Ireland and has been selected for the Origin NYC Festival in 2022. More on this here.

I appeared in Blackwater Babble (Brokencrow), This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing (Graffiti Theatre), The Big Chapel X (Asylum, Kilkenny Arts Festival), Evening Train (Everyman and Rosa Productions), The Lonesome West (Everyman) --- nominated Best Supporting Actor at the Irish Theatre Awards --- Bluetooth (Everyman) and in The School (RTE, 2017).

I was the inaugural Theatre Artist in Residence at Cork Opera House-UCC 2018 - 2020. I'm a mentor on the Young Playwrights Programme with Fighting Words Cork, and creator of Hammergrin's In Darkness Vast. I wrote Stage Irish, which won the Writers Guild of Great Britain Playwrights Progress Award 2014 and co-wrote Hollander, nominated Best Production at the Irish Theatre Awards.

Recent directing includes The Herd and The Seafarer (Play it By Ear, Everyman), In One Eye, Out the Other (Cccahoots, Dublin Fringe Festival and First Fortnight Festival) and WHALE (Cork Opera House, Midsummer Festival 2019).

Repped as an actor by Maureen and Eleanor at First Call Management


what I'm up to

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A remarkable new work of theatre and song that explores our age-old need to reach out beyond ourselves, even in the most remote place imaginable. Following four human lives across the lifespan of a whale; the stories of Orisin, Kwire, Unkle and Koastguard intertwine in subtle and abrupt ways, sending echoes long into the future.

By turns epic and intimate, featuring original songs and music, a superb cast that features Noelle Brown, Julie Maguire, John McCarthy and Dominic Moore on the Cork Opera House stage; in collaboration with a brilliant creative
team including composer Fiona Sheil, lighting and set designer Eoin Winning, costume designer Valentina Gambardella and assistant director Katrina Foley.

Produced by Naomi Daly
Production Manager Donal McNinch
Stage Manager Chris Hopcraft
Graphic Design Megan Clancy

Supported by The Arts Council, Cork Opera House, University College Cork, and Cork Midsummer Festival


The seventh best musical robot group in the world is making a new musical, to be performed to all robots everywhere and it’s going to completely explain what humans are – in song. Everything will be fine,
they just need some clear answers. That rhyme. Meanwhile 10-year old Jennifer Dempsey – MASSIVE robot fan – is on a mission of her own, one that might just change the course of robot- human relations forever!

Brought to you by John McCarthy (the writer of City, 2021), The Everyman and Graffiti Theatre Company, who have been providing theatre for young audiences and arts experiences for children in Cork for almost 40 years, this big-hearted – and funny! –story about loss, friendship and hope features three humanoid robots, one quite robotic human and beautiful original songs throughout.

Written by John McCarthy
Song Lyrics/Book by John McCarthy
Song Composition by John McCarthy and Katie Holly
Cast includes Jennifer Barry, Bob Kelly, Úna Ní Bhriain, Madi O’Carroll
Directed by Niall Cleary
Set & Lighting Designer Sarah Jane Shiels
Sound Design & Musical Director Carl Kennedy
Assistant Musical Director Emily Donoghue
Costume Designer Jenny Whyte
Stage Technician Seamus Hegarty
Stage Manager Michael Ryan
Production Manager Ian Brown
Producers The Everyman & Graffiti

Made possible by funding from the RTÉ Toy Show fund managed by the Community Foundation of Ireland, the Arts Council and Cork City Council Arts Office



New play development

Writing a new play, produced by Naomi Daly, with dramaturgy by Jesse Weaver and funded by an Arts Council Agility Award