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Friday, September 30, 2005
By Louise Hogan
A JUDGE has been appointed chairman of the Abbey Theatre as the century-old institution undergoes a major reform.
Judge Bryan McMahon, the son of the late Bryan McMahon, an Abbey playwright, was formally appointed to the helm of the National Theatre yesterday.
Arts Minister John O’Donoghue, who made the announcement, said: "I am delighted that Bryan McMahon has agreed to accept this extremely important position. He is steeped in the literary and artistic tradition and brings an extremely high level of professional expertise to the role."
The advisory council of the troubled theatre recently approved measures which will allow for radical change in the way it is run. The committee passed resolutions allowing the dissolution of the National Theatre Society and its replacement by a new limited company without shareholders.
The move follows a financial crisis at the theatre, which sustained major losses of €1.85 million last year.
The society had run the Abbey since its foundation in 1904 - and the theatre has been at the centre of Irish artistic life for many leading actors and playwrights, staging plays by writers such as Sean O’Casey and Brian Friel.
Judge McMahon’s appointment was warmly welcomed by Arts Council Chair Olive Braiden, who said: "We are confident that under his chairmanship, the Abbey will be well equipped to face the challenges ahead and to fulfil its role as an artistically vibrant organisation, stable and secure and enriching the life of the nation."
Ms Braiden added the council would be looking to the Government to make increased resources available to the arts.
Judge McMahon, who replaces outgoing chairwoman, Eithne Healy, has been a Judge of the Circuit Court since 1999.
He holds BCL and LLB degrees from UCD and an LLM and PhD from Harvard Law School and in 1967 he took up a post as a Statutory Lecturer in the Law Faculty at University College Cork. During his time at UCC, Judge McMahon went on to become Professor of Law.
From 1987, while practising law, he simultaneously held a part-time Chair of Law at the NUI, Galway. Judge McMahon has co-authored many legal texts.
The judge is also an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at UCC, Chair of the Irish Universities Quality Board and Chair of the National Archives Advisory Council.
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