The Lir Academy's staff, board and tutors are made up of a team of highly qualified professionals. Their expertise in the arts, education, cultural and business sectors supports The Lir Academy in realising its mission.



Loughlin Deegan


Loughlin Deegan’s many achievements include working as a playwright, an arts manager for The Belltable and Druid, as director of ITI’s Irish Playography archive, as literary manager and later company producer of Rough Magic, and for five years he was the Artistic Director and CEO of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. As the first Director of The Lir, Loughlin is responsible for the overall direction of the Academy and the curation of the artistic programme.

Brian Singleton

Brian Singleton

Academic Director

Samuel Beckett Chair of Drama and Theatre

Brian Singleton is Samuel Beckett Professor of Drama & Theatre at Trinity College Dublin and is the Academic Director of The Lir –National Academy of Dramatic Art in Ireland. He is co-editor of the series ‘Studies in International Performance’ published by Palgrave Macmillan for which he and Janelle Reinelt won the 2012 ATHE prize for sustained achievement in editing. He has published many articles and book chapters on interculturalism/orientalism and performance including the mongraph Oscar Asche, Orientalism and British Musical Comedy (Praeger, 2004), as well as two books on the life and work of Antonin Artaud. His latest monograph is entitled Masculinities and the Contemporary Irish Theatre (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Anne Fitzpatrick

Anne Fitzpatrick

Director of Administration

Anne Fitzpatrick was appointed as the Academy’s first Administrator and has been responsible for academic and operational administration for The Academy since doors opened in September 2011. Having trained and worked in theatre and education for over fifteen years previous to this Anne continues to drive The Lir administration to support the students in achieving the highest possible standards during their training at The Lir Academy.

Barry Conway

Barry Conway

Director of Technical Training

Barry Conway began his career with the first Dublin Fringe Festival in 1995 which led to him working for both Arena Lighting and the Electric Light Company. Since 2003 Barry has held the position of Production & Lighting Department Manager of Avcom Ltd. Barry has worked consistently as a freelance Chief Electrician on numerous theatre productions in Irish theatre. Barry has also acted as Senior Technician for many of Ireland’s leading festivals and events including Galway Arts Festival, Belfast Festival at Queen’s, the Dublin Theatre Festival as well as a long career with the Dublin Fringe Festival in culminating in being its production manager in 2003. Barry has also led many teaching and training initiatives at Avcom and elsewhere. Barry is also a founding member of the Association of Irish Stage Technicians.

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Gavin O’Donoghue

Foundation Diploma and Short Courses Director

Gavin is the Foundation Diploma and Short Courses Director at The Lir Academy. He studied Drama at The Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College Dublin, spending his ERASMUS year at Goldsmiths College, The University of London. On graduating from Trinity, Gavin trained as an actor at The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He worked as an actor in the theatre and on radio in the UK before studying for his MA in Voice Studies at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

Prior to his work at The Lir Academy, Gavin taught on drama programmes at University College Cork and the University of Ulster. He continues to work as a freelance dialect coach as well as teaching voice at the Dundalk Institute of Technology. Alongside his duties on the Foundation Diploma and Short Courses, Gavin teaches dialect and sight-reading on the bachelor in Acting course.


Colm Carney

Academic Administrator

Colm began his career in healthcare, working for several years as a healthcare assistant before moving into medical secretary roles. Colm has worked in most of Dublin’s major hospitals in settings as varied as A&E, ICU, Palliative Care and Psychiatry. Colm later worked with both the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the College of Anaesthetists of Ireland, coordinating postgraduate medical education and training for Ireland’s graduate doctor’s. In 2013, Colm changed direction and began working freelance in the Arts sector. He has worked in various roles with The Abbey Theatre, Landmark Productions, Dublin Fringe Festival, Galway International Arts Festival, Cork Midsummer Festival, Clonmel Junction Festival and Dublin International Film Festival, as well as with Assembly Festival at the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland. Colm holds a BA in Contemporary Culture & Society from Dublin City University as well as a Certificate in Counselling & Psychotherapy from PCI College Dublin.

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Paul O'Connor

Commercial Director

Paul O’Connor joined The Lir Academy in April 2019 as Commercial Director; in charge of devising and delivering creative new business initiatives across multiple departments within The Lir. Paul is responsible for driving sales across the academy’s range of Short Courses as well as running ‘The Lir at Work’, The Lir Academy's corporate communications training programme. With over 20 years experience working in Sales, Marketing and Business Development – Paul’s most recent role, prior to joining The Lir, was based in London, as Commercial Director of 1st Option Representation, the UK’s largest TV, Film & Photoshoot Locations Agency. Previously, Paul worked as General Manager of The Factory in Barrow Street and was one of the Senior Management Team responsible for the establishment of Bow Street Academy for Screen Acting.

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Jessica Hilliard

Director of Marketing

Jessica studied Drama & Theatre Studies at the Samuel Beckett Centre at Trinity College Dublin and has an MA in Performance & Culture from Goldsmiths, University of London. She has worked in various positions in the cultural sector for over 20 years with a specific focus on marketing, communications and fundraising since 2012. Her recent experience includes roles at the Irish Film Institute; Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin; Dublin Fringe Festival; and Dublin Theatre Festival. She joined the Lir in 2020 as the Director of Marketing.

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Kate Devaney

Marketing Officer
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Tara Mc Dermott

Admissions and Short Course Manager.

Tara Mc Dermott studied Arts with Theatre and Performance at NUIG. During her time there she was involved in numerous theatre projects in every role imaginable including writer and director.

Since graduating Tara has been working in both administration and education in Madrid, organising language programmes for students of varying ages learning English.

While working in administration, Tara has continued to design for film and theatre as well as exploring visual art, exhibiting paintings in Kushuro in Madrid and most recently in Ireland as part of the Pluid project. Tara was appointed Admissions and Short Course Manager at the Lir in 2022.

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Katie Sweeney

Training Coordinator

Katie Sweeney studied Film and Documentary production at GMIT. During her degree, she produced and directed several short documentaries and was various crew on a number of short fiction films, both live-action and stop motion animation.

Katie continued with various roles across production and art departments for television and film in Ireland before moving into Media and Communications at a political consulting agency in New York where she produced campaign content for democratic state senators and assembly members, non-profit organisations and local union groups.

After returning to Ireland, she spent a short time working in administration for Galway Simon Community before joining the Lir in October 2021 as Training Coordinator for ‘The Lir at Work’ corporate communications training programme and The Lir Academy’s short courses.

Joanne O Hagan

Joanne O'Hagan

Director of Development

Joanne brings her significant experience of over twenty years in the creative, cultural and not-for-profit sectors to the organization. Joanne has worked extensively as a freelance media producer and fundraising consultant. Her previous roles include Head of Fundraising for Enable Ireland and CEO of the Dublin International Film Festival.

Helen Hennessey

Helen Hennessey

Venue and Events Manager

Helen Hennessey started working in the performing arts as a teenager. As a student, she spent most of her time in her school’s theatre, stage managing theatrical productions. After finishing school, Helen focused her career on concert production. From the age of eighteen, she worked for It’s My Party promotions, which owns and operates several music venues in her hometown of Washington, D.C., including the 9:30 Club, The Anthem, The Lincoln Theatre and Merriweather Post Pavilion. A willingness to learn and a flexible schedule meant on any given day Helen could be found at one or more of the four venues doing several different jobs. By the end of her time in Washington, D.C. she gained experience in marketing, box office sales, merchandising, artist hospitality, operations and booking. Among many memorable events during this time, the Foo Fighters 20th-anniversary show in 2015, the opening of The Anthem in 2017 and several M3 Rock Festivals stand out as highlights.

Since 2017, Helen has served as the Artist Merchandise manager for The Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals. For two weeks every summer, Fort Adams State Park in Rhode Island becomes home as she organises merchandise sales for musicians performing at the festivals.

Helen holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Maryland College Park and an MSc in Comparative Social Change from University College Dublin and Trinity College. Her dissertation for the joint master's program was concerned with the experiences of labourers in the arts industries, allowing her to combine her love for the social sciences with her career in the performing arts.

Emma Dwyer

Emma Dwyer

Director of Marketing (Maternity Cover)


  • Chair: James Hickey
  • Michael Binchy
  • Anne Clarke
  • Dana Cuffe
  • Jon Downey (Alternate Director for Danielle Ryan)
  • Dermot McCrum
  • Gail McElroy
  • Eleanor Methven
  • Anne Mulcahy
  • Peter Reynolds
  • Dearbhla Walshe