An arched window framed by stooping trees can be seen at the back of the stage as the students sit sprawled, script in hand practising for the All Ireland final. One young man stands out, his eyes filled with mischief and well intended humour. Even at this young age, Hughie McGarvey is no stranger to the stage. His feet were well used to threading the boards in local dramas in his hometown of Ranafast.
At the tender age of eight, Hughie took on the role of Basil in Fawlty Towers under the direction of Ros na Rún actor, Niall Mac Eamharcaigh. His commitment to character and his confident appearance on the stage assured everyone who went to see the local play that the young actor would someday commit to the profession as a career.
Many years later, Hughie is one of the leading characters in ‘Rasaí na Gaillimhe’ a programme that has earned itself a secure niche in TG4’s schedule having attracted the most viewers ever to a series, peaking at almost two hundred thousand. The programme which is now in its second series has become a firm favourite with both English and Irish speakers who tune in every week to watch the fast moving upbeat series.
The show is directed by the well known and much respected Robert Quinn a household name with viewers throughout the country.
Robert Quinn has worked in film production since 1987 with directors such as Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan, Michael Winterbottom and David Mamet. The film took three IFTA awards including Best Actor, Sound and Editing and was nominated for Best Film, Script and Director.
“Robert is great to work with. We had great craic on set. We always had our work done and had our work done well so there were never any complaints. It is a new departure for TG4, one that has not been tried up to now and it has proved successful. The cast which included Eoin Mac Diarmada and Sean T. Ó’Meallaigh were excellent to work with as were the crew,” Hughie said.
Hughie plays the part of one of the De Barra brothers, a group of young men who get up to mischief with drugs, drink, gangland members and guns and at times even wear women’s clothes. Their antics can be the best part of the award winning series. The seven part drama comedy series was in the can by September. The first series was shot in 2008 and went to air in 2009. It is speculated that a third series will soon come to our screens.
“You need to continue with a series like this when viewers are still interested. You need to keep the momentum going. I would love it if there was a third series but we will have to wait and see. There were three years between the first and second series,” he said.
Hughie came into his own in Pobailscoil Ghaoth Dobhair a school that is nationally reputed for the calibre of actors, presenters, singers and performers that have exited the swinging doors of the Luinneach based school. During a parent teacher meeting, the former principal, Seán Mac Cumhaill told Hughie’s mother that he should be on stage. The words rang true for Hughie during his five year tenure at the school. Every year a drama was being prepared for the All-Ireland, Hughie took centre stage. He left secondary school with a number of All-Ireland awards under his arm.
“I remember being twelve years of age and getting on Feda O’Donnell’s bus and going to Galway to do voice-overs for Boulai. When you think of it, times have changed so much. I never thought about it, I just did it,” he said.
When TG4 was established, Hughie took one of the main parts in the first series ‘Sior Ghaoth’ he was also featured on ‘Now Your Talking’ and other national shows during his teenage years. He also took part in FFC with Pol Mac Cumhaill which he deems “comedy gold”, ‘CU Burn’ and BBC Northern Ireland’s ‘Machaire’.
In recent weeks, viewers would have heard Hughie’s voice detailing the events of the Dodge nightclub in Gaoth Dobhair in beautifully eloquent Irish on TG4. The talented actor also spent five years in the stations of Raidió na Gaeltachta where he and top broadcaster Ronán Mac Aodh Bhuí entertained the masses. The show which ran for many years proved to be exceptionally popular across the nation.
Hughie is also a member of Aisteoirí Ghaoth Dobhair. There is palpable excitement in the area at the prospect of having the theatre fixed and returned to its former glory. “I can’t wait until the theatre gets fixed and once again the stage can be used. We have done one or two dramas over the years and we have showed them in An Grianán in Letterkenny. We had great crowds for both shows,” he said,
Hughie has also acted with Splodar, The Glen’s Theatre, Manorhamilton and An Aisling Ghéar in Belfast. Hughie has come way from the days that he and his friends sat together learning their scripts. The future certainly looks bright for the popular and talented Rosses man.