Galileo - subheading


In The International Year of Astronomy (2009), Dublin Lyric presented a production of this classic play about the Italian scientist and philosopher Galileo Galilei in Dublin between 13 and 17 July 2009.

'The Life of Galileo' was written by the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht in the 1930s. The play covers the later period in Galileo's life and the story deals with the conflict between his scientific discoveries and the teachings of the Catholic Church. The powerful influences of science and religion on society are explored together with Galileo's personal struggle with the choices he made.

Galileo Galilei

Drawing of Galileo © Royal Astronomical Society

Galileo’s discoveries, which convinced him that the Sun was the centre of the solar system, resulted in him being brought to trial by the Church and forced to deny the truth of what he learned about the universe.

Brecht doesn't present an over-simplified black and white version of right and wrong. Galileo is not depicted as a perfect character. He is shown to be a man whose scientific achievements were as big as the universe he explored, but who was not always as farsighted in his dealings with the people around him.

Following his agreement to recant his scientific beliefs, he spent the rest of his life under house arrest, but he continued to work on his research until he died in January 1642.

Brecht's 'The Life of Galileo' is commonly regarded as a brilliant artistic expression of the mind and times of one of the most remarkable figures in world history and is also one of the finest plays written in the 20th century.



The play was presented in association with Astronomy Ireland and the performances were in the exhibition space, 'The Atrium', at the centre of the headquarters of the Office of Public Works 51, St Stephen's Green South, Dublin at 6:15pm from Monday 13 to Friday 17 July 2009.

The Atrium
The Atrium in the headquarters of the Office of Public Works, St Stephen's Green, Dublin

Conor O'Malley
Director Conor O'Malley introducing the play.

Director's note on the text:

"Desmond Vesey's version of Brecht's play is the first version prepared in English translation and was completed during the 1930s and with Brecht's personal input.

If performed in full, this version would probably run close to four hours in performance. That length was significantly reduced, with a view to keeping the focus on the main theme, that is, the clash between Galileo's findings as a scientist with entrenched Church dogma of the times. Some of the dialectic was edited."

Life of Galileo poster



A larger image of the poster (left) is available as a JPEG picture file here.

To download a copy of any image shown here:

PC users: Right-click the link or the image and select 'Save Target As...' or 'Save Link As...'

Apple Mac users: Ctrl-click on link or image and choose 'Download Linked File' or 'Save Link As...'



The Cast of 'The Life of Galileo'
(in order of appearance)

Olivia Pouyanne
Galileo Galilei
Terry ONeill
Andrea Sarti, as a boy
Daniel Forde
Signora Sarti
Geraldine McAlinden
Ludovico Marsili
Tristan McConnell
The Chancellor, Signor Priuli
Neil Hogan
The Doge
Dick Tobin
Michael O'Sullivan
Therese Mullan
Cosimo de Medici, as a boy
Aidan Kelly
Dick Tobin
Peter Prior
Glen Forbes
A Thin Monk
Dominic Palmer
The Old Cardinal
Michael Thornton
Glen Forbes
The Little Monk, Fulganzio
Derek Palmer
Federzoni, a lens grinder
Peter Prior
The Cardinal Inquisitor
Declan Brennan
Cardinal Barberini
Neil Hogan
Cardinal Bellarmin
Glen Forbes
Andrea Sarti
David Fennelly
Frank Lonergan
Border Guard
Frank Lonergan
Dominic Palmer
Daniel Forde, Aidan Kelly & Aaran McCoy


Conor O'Malley
Assistant Director
Olivia Pouyanne
Specialist Props
Caoimhe Dunn
Poster Design and Photography
Declan Brennan


Galileo & Cardinal Inquisitor
Galileo (Terry O'Neill) and the
Cardinal Inquisitor (Declan Brennan)

Extract from the foreword to The Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht:

"It is well known how beneficially people can be influenced by the conviction that they are poised on the threshold of a new age. At such a moment their environment appears to be still entirely unfinished, capable of the happiest improvements, full of dreamt of and undreamt of possibilities, like malleable raw material in their hands. They themselves feel as if they have awakened to a new day, rested strong, resourceful. Old beliefs are dismissed as superstitions, what yesterday seemed a matter of course is today subject to fresh examination. We have been ruled, says mankind, but now we shall be the rulers.

The new age – that was something that affects everything, leaves nothing, unchanged, but is, also, still only unfolding its character gradually; something in which all imagination has scope to flower, and which is only restricted by too precise description. Glorious is the feeling of beginning, of pioneering; the fact of being a beginner inspires enthusiasm. Glorious is the feeling of happiness in those who oil a new machine before it is to display its strength, in those who fill in a blank space on an old map, in those who dig the foundation of a new house, their house."



Pictures taken at a performance of 'The Life of Galileo' on 15 July 2009

Biographical notes on the actors appear between the pictures.

Cardinals and Galileo

Cardinal Bellarmin (Glen Forbes), Cardinal Barberini (Neil Hogan) and Galileo (Terry O'Neill)

Terry O'Neill's main sphere of theatrical activity has been in Square One Theatre Group Bray for three decadent decades with roles of actor, director and Sabbath carpenter interalia. He has also devised, directed and played in shows around town down the years. This is his second outing with Brecht having played Azdak et al in The Caucasian Chalk Circle in Bray many moons ago.

Old Cardinal and Galileo

The Old Cardinal (Michael Thornton) and Galileo (Terry O'Neill)

Michael Thornton's roles in theatre include Da in Da, Fr. Jack in Dancing at Lughnasa, Brennan o the Moor in Red Roses for Me, Knutbrovik in The Master Builder and Tom in Chekov's The Bear. He has played many parts with Dublin Lyric, including the Old Man in Yeats' The Death of Cuchulain and in Purgatory.

Young Andrea Sarti
Galileo & Ludovico

Andrea Sarti, as a boy (Daniel Forde)

Galileo with Ludovico (Tristan McConnell)

Daniel Forde is a pupil of Stagecoach Theatre Arts School in Blackrock.

Tristan McConnell graduated from the GSA's full time course in 2008. Theatre credits include Lane Production's 'The Shawshank Redemption' (Gaiety Theatre), Riverdream's 'Magick Macabre' (Olympia Theatre), Jouissance Production's 'The Woman Who Left Herself', Gavin Kostick's 'War of the Roses III, The Dreaming of the Bones and The King's Threshold.

The Chancellor

Neil Hogan (right) as The Chancellor

Neil Hogan trained at the GSA and more recently with Tim McDonnell in the Stanislavski Studio. Recently Neil has appeared in Hamlet (Claudius & Ghost) at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and in The Winters Tale (Camillo) and Julius Caesar (Julius Caesar) both at the Project Arts Centre.

Audience at The Atrium

The audience seated on three sides of the performing space in The Atrium

The Narrator
The Narrator

The Narrator played by Olivia Pouyanne

Olivia Pouyanne graduated from the full-time course of the GSA in 2004. Credits includes The Waiting Room (co-written) with Kabosh, The War of the Roses trilogy (acclaimed Best Production Nominee of the Fringe festival 2008), Anton and 32A. With Dublin Lyric since 2004 and Whiplash since 2006. She is directing The Cat and the Moon and The Only Jealousy of Emer for Dublin Lyric in the National Library.

Galileo shows the telescopes

Galileo introduces the telescope to the Philosopher (Dick Tobin) on the left and Chancellor (Neil Hogan)

Sagredo with Chancellor
Galileo with Sagredo

Sagredo (Michael O'Sullivan) on left with Chancellor

Sagredo (Michael O'Sullivan) on right with Galileo

Michael O'Sullivan has acted in over 30 productions over the years, with Lancos, Swords, Rush and Millbank drama groups. His credits include two musicals with Rush Musical Society. He played Nick in The Last Apache Reunion, Alfieri in A View from the Bridge, Parris In The Crucible and Dr. Rank in A Doll's House, among a host of John B. Keane and Irish plays.

Virginia with Galileo

Virginia (Therese Mullan) with Galileo (Terry O'Neill)

Therese Mullan is a graduate of DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. Credits Include War of the Roses I and II (Whiplash), The Hourglass, The King's Threshold, The Carnival Queen (N. I. Film Board). Jet Lag Waltz (Ready Fire Aim), The Pendulum (Near FM). Recently on tour with Smashing Times Theatre Company's Testimonies.

Cosimo de Medici as a boy
Younge Andrea with Signora Sarti

Cosimo de Medici (Aidan Kelly)

Young Andrea with Signora Sarti (Geraldine McAlinden)

Aidan Kelly is a pupil of Stagecoach Theatre Arts School in Blackrock.

Geraldine McAlinden has trained with the GSA and Focus Theatre. Credits include the Blind Woman in Storytaker (2008 Fringe), Various characters in Spoonfed a longplay improv (2005 Fringe), Charlotte in Beyond Therapyl, Madge in Philadelphia, Here I Come, and Mammy in The Cripple of Inishmaan. Film & TV Credits include ANTON and Murphy's Law.

Theologian, Philosopher & Mathematician

Theologian (Glen Forbes), Philosopher (Dick Tobin) and Mathematician (Peter Prior)

This was Dick Tobin's first appearance with Dublin Lyric. Earlier in the year he played the Old Shepherd in the Classic Stage production of The Winter's Tale at the Project directed by Andy Hinds.

Galileo with Little Monk

Theologian (Glen Forbes)

Galileo with the Little Monk (Derek Palmer)

Glen Forbes is from Dublin and trained at the GSA and Sallynoggin College of Further Education. Credits Include Rudolph Peterson in Judgement at Nuremberg and Mr Swales in Dracula ( Blue Moon Theatre Co.) Larry in Closer (1984 productions), Moth in Two (Willow on the Hill), Claudius, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (Cyebo). Film:The Hunchback in The Tudors.

Derek Palmer has played a wide variety of characters in many different plays, from straight dramas through sketches to musicals, over the past few years. His favourites being Mr Snow in carousel and Trofimov in The Cherry orchard. He and his brother Dominic have written and produced two comedy sketch shows through their newly formed drama group 'Pages Turned.'

The Little Monk with Galileo

The Little Monk, Fulganzio (Derek Palmer) with Galileo (Terry O'Neill)

Virginia with Signora Sarti
Galileo with Federzoni ey al

Virginia (Therese Mullan) & Sarti (Geraldine McAlinden)

Seated: Peter Prior, Derek Palmer with David Fennelly

Virginia praying

Virginia (Therese Mullan) praying before Galileo recants

Andrea with Federzoni

Andrea (David Fennelly) on the left with Federzoni (Peter Prior)

David Fennelly is a recent graduate of the Gaiety School of Acting (GSA). Previous work Includes Cripple Billy in The Cripple of Inishmaan - and the Policeman in Dublin City Counselling. He is also playing in The Cat and the Moon in The National Library.

Peter Prior has been threading the boards for the last fifteen years mainly with The Dublin Shakespeare Society. Favourlte recent roles include Bottom in A Midsummer's Night Dream, Duke of Kent in King Lear, Uncle Peter in The Plough And The Stars and The Tramp in Synge's The Shadow of The Glen.

Andrea with Federzoni

Andrea (David Fennelly) on the left with Federzoni (Peter Prior)

Virginia with Galileo
Andrea with Galileo

Virginia (Therese Mullan) & Galileo (Terry O'Neill)

Andrea Sarti (David Fennelly) & Galileo

Clerk with the boys
Clerk with Border Guard

Dominic Palmer & Aaran McCoy (centre)

Dominic Palmer (seated) & Frank Lonergan (standing)

Dominic Palmer has been involved in dramatics for fifteen years. Most recently he took part in the Bray One Act Festival this year with Square One in Heaven's Above, and will be directing his first show this coming Christmas, his own original piece A Christmas Slice.

Aaron McCoy is a pupil of 'Stagecoach' and recently appeared in Dublin Lyric's production of Oedipus, the King.

Frank Lonergan has been actor and director with St. Thomas, Mount Merrion, Square One (Bray), St. Patrick's Dalkey, Waterfront Players, Bray Musical Society, DMDS and SYMCO. Favourite roles are Paul in Barefoot in the Park and The Father In Poor Old Joe. Directed Trumpets and Raspberries, Present Slaughter and an improvisation The Web.

Inquisitor with Pope

The Cardinal Inquisitor (Declan Brennan) with The Pope (Neil Hogan)

Declan Brennan's roles with Dublin Lyric include works by Yeats and Eugene McCabe, in whose play 'Pull Down a Horseman', he played Patrick Pearce. Other roles include Lucentio and Jacques (Shakespeare), the Narrator in 'Our Town' at the Mill Theatre, Victor Velasco in 'Barefoot in the Park' at Andrews Lane Studio, the iconic doctor in ‘Dr Who meets Albert Einstein’ by Justin Richards at the Young Scientist Exhibition in the RDS, Dublin, the Ghost Fancier in 'By the Bog of Cats' and the Doctor in 'At the Back Pig's Dyke' at the Mill.

Andrea at the Border Crossing

Andrea (David Fennelly), Clerk (Dominic Palmer) and Border Guard (Frank Lonergan)

Curtain Call

The audience shows its appreciation

Curtain Call


Caoimhe Dunn, who sourced and designed the props for the production, is a graduate in Fine Art from Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Technology and Design where she specialised in Model Making and Design. Her work includes design for the National Library's Yeats Exhibition. She is currently with Bui Boig in Wexford.

The final performance of the Dublin Lyric production of 'The Life of Galileo' was on Friday 17 July 2009.


Dublin Lyric logo