Our current board members are listed below, along with their biographies and dates of appointment.

Current Board Members 

Dr. Frances Ruane (Chair)

Dr. Frances Ruane is an economist. She is currently Chair of the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council. Dr. Ruane held academic positions at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) between 1977 and 2006, as well as administrative positions, including College Bursar. She was Director of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) from 2006 to 2015.

Dr. Ruane is a member of the Royal Irish Academy (since 2003) and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin (since 2010). She recently served as President of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, as a member of the Council of the Institute for International and European Affairs, and as a member of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support to Persons in the International Protection Process.

She has previously served as a board member of several public bodies, including the NBST, IDA, Forfás, BGE, HEA, HRB, and the NPRF Commission. She also served as Chair of the National Statistics Board and as Chair of the Douglas Hyde Gallery at TCD.

Over her career, Frances has been an academic visitor at various universities in the UK, USA and Canada. Born in Tuam, Co Galway, she studied Economics at UCD and at Oxford University, where she graduated with a DPhil in 1980. (Date of re-appointment: 29/07/2022)

Michael Owens (Deputy Chair)
Michael Owens is a HR professional, with extensive HR experience in insurance, manufacturing and retail. He recently retired as HR Director with Vhi Healthcare where he was a member of the executive management team involved in formulating and executing business strategy. Michael led a number of key projects in Vhi Healthcare, including the development of a business centre in Kilkenny employing 600 people and a new award winning Head Office in Abbey Street. 

Michael was a member of the board of Business to Arts for 8 years and served as its chairperson for 5 years. During that time Business to Arts was recognised for a number of impactful Arts initiatives including the Allianz Business to Arts Awards, New Stream and Fund it. Michael has also been a board member with Junior Achievement, Vhi Swiftcare and Coyle Hamilton. 

He has a keen interest in HR Best Practice and contributed in this regard as a member of the National Committee of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (Ireland) where he was chairperson for 4 years. Michael has a BA in HR and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Executive Coaching. (Date of appointment: 09/03/2020)

Noelle Brown
Noelle Brown has been an actor since 1987 and became a writer, theatre maker and co-producer  in 2013. As an actor, she has worked with all of Ireland’s leading theatre companies, as well as in film, television and radio. Her career began at the Abbey Theatre where her appearances have included: Ghosts, Dancing at Lughnasa, and The Unmanageable Sisters. Recently, she was lead artist, curator and performer in the Abbey Theatre’s Home: Part One.

Drawing on her own personal experiences of being an adoptee, she co-wrote her first play Postscript with Michèle Forbes, and she continues to highlight the legacy of human rights abuses suffered by Mother and Baby Home survivors. Postscript toured all over Ireland, played at the Centre Cultural Irlandais Paris, at the Abbey Theatre (Peacock), and the London Irish Centre.

Foxy, her play about prejudice towards the Travelling Community was presented at Project Arts Centre (Cube) in 2015. Her play Creaking, co-created with Oonagh Murphy, explored societal attitudes towards older people and toured Ireland as part of the Bealtaine Festival in 2017. She also created and co-produced, with Faye O’ Rourke, Konenki (Menopause Unmasked) at the Sugar Club to help lift the silence around Menopause. (Date of appointment: 20/12/2021)

Mairéad Delaney
Mairéad Delaney is the Abbey Theatre Archivist and Staff Director. A graduate of UCD and a professional Archivist, she was commissioned as an external consultant in 1994 to prepare the first detailed analysis of the Abbey Theatre’s archival holdings. In 1996 she was appointed to establish the Abbey Theatre Archive.

In the intervening years the Abbey Theatre Archive has grown extensively, creating a unique resource preserving and making available the social, cultural, and economic history of Ireland’s National Theatre. The collection is widely utilised by scholars, theatre practitioners and members of the public both nationally and internationally. Mairéad is a member of the Project Team for the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive. This large scale digitisation partnership with NUI Galway has helped define a new era of theatre scholarship.

Having taught at secondary, university and adult education levels, she retains a strong interest in education and mentoring. In addition to giving specialist tours of the Abbey Theatre, Mairéad frequently acts as an Abbey ambassador lecturing both at home and abroad. She has collaborated on several exhibitions with other cultural institutions including the National Library of Ireland, the National Gallery of Ireland, IMMA and the Crawford Art Gallery.

Mairéad previously served on the Advisory Council of the National Theatre Society Limited. (Date of appointment: 01/02/2021)

Múirne Laffan
Múirne Laffan has global experience building teams, products, brands and revenues in News, Sport & Entertainment at RTÉ and McCann Worldgroup. She sits on several boards and works with media start-ups on growth strategy, including Noa – News Over Audio.

She started her career in advertising in London, joined RTÉ as General Manager, RTÉ Commercial Enterprises Limited, in 2001. She subsequently worked as MD of RTÉ Publishing, MD of RTÉ Digital and was a member of the executive board, becoming Chief Digital Officer in 2015 and Chair of the EBU Digital Steering Committee. Prior to RTÉ, Múirne was Senior Vice President, Director of Worldwide Clients at McCann-Erickson in New York, set up McCann Interactive and was a founding executive board member of UM, one of the world’s largest media agencies.

Múirne is fascinated by the creative implications of evolving audience behaviour and new media technologies. She is a Board member of the Irish Television & Film Academy and Chair of the TV Committee, Board member of the Digital Repository of Ireland and of Drinkaware. Múirne is a graduate of TU Dublin’s College of Marketing & Design and Trinity College Dublin. (Date of appointment: 20/12/2021)

Máire O’Higgins
Máire is an Assistant Principal and Chaplain in Larkin Community College in Dublin’s North Inner City. She has worked in education, arts and community development for over thirty years.

As an educator Máire developed the first partnership arts in education Junior Cycle programme in secondary schools in Ireland. She has led myriad artist residencies in schools. Her work in the arts and education has informed her role as a Board member of Encountering The Arts Ireland, a national alliance of education and arts practitioners and organisations. 

As a theatre practitioner Máire worked as a Director with Passion Machine Theatre Company. She was a founding member of Pigsback Theatre Company, and has worked as an actor and producer in theatre.

In her community development work, Máire has led intergenerational initiatives for civic community engagement, with the National Museum of Ireland, the National College of Art and Design, the Abbey Theatre and Localise Volunteering. She served as a Board member of Localise for ten years and on the Steering Committee for the National Citizenship Education Network.

Máire is on the North Inner City Programme Implementation Board Steering Committee tasked with bringing diverse communities together to celebrate sustained civic and cultural engagement. (Date of appointment: 09/03/2020)

Owen Travers
Owen Travers is an experienced Finance executive and is currently the Finance Director of D|RES Properties, one of the largest housing developers in the country. D|RES is a GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainable Benchmark) member and a leader in innovation and sustainability practices in construction.

Prior to joining D|RES, Owen was the Chief Executive of AIB Corporate Finance where he advised on a number of large fundraising and capital projects together with a number of significant M&A transactions. Owen also was a Director in the Capital Markets division of AIB where he oversaw a number of key sectors including European Real Estate, Hospitality, Project Finance, Renewable Power and Social Housing. This saw Owen provide significant support for a number of key sectors and employers in the Irish economy.

Owen holds a degree in Business Studies (Finance) from Trinity College Dublin and is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA). He has also completed the Inter Alpha executive management programme at INSEAD. Owen has served on the Finance Committee of Junior Achievement Ireland and assisted a number of other charity and not for profit entities. Owen has supported the Abbey Theatre over recent years as a patron, corporate patron and supporter of the Business in Theatre programme. (Date of appointment: 20/12/2021)

Michael Wall
Michael Wall is a practising barrister specialising in construction, planning and environmental law and is a qualified architect and planner.  He is a fellow of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and served on its council from 2019 to 2021.  He is also a member of the Irish Planning Institute (IPI) and is qualified and practises as a Mediator and Arbitrator.  Michael is currently a board member of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), chair of the NAMA Planning Advisory Committee, board member/trustee of Simpson’s Hospital, Dundrum, Dublin, and chairman of the Irish Georgian Society.

Michael was founding chairman of Wide Open Opera and is a former board member of Irish National Opera and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.  He was previously a member of the board of the Abbey Theatre (2017 to 2020) and chair of its Site Redevelopment Committee.

In addition to qualifications in architecture from DIT (now TUD) and TCD, he has a master’s degree in planning from UCD, MBA from the Smurfit Business School at UCD and BL from the Honorable Society of King’s Inns. D’fhreastail Mícheál ar bhunscoil agus meánscoil Choláiste Mhuire i mBaile Átha Cliath. (Date of re-appointment: 20/12/2021)

Michael West
Michael West is a playwright, adaptor and translator. In collaboration with Annie Ryan and The Corn Exchange, his work includes The Fall of the Second Republic, Dublin by Lamplight; the world premiere adaptation of James Joyce’s Dubliners; Man of Valour; Freefall; Everyday; Foley; and adaptations of The Seagull and Lolita

Translations include The Marriage of Figaro; Death and the Ploughman by the Bohemian 14th century writer Johannes Von Saaz; and work by Molière, Marivaux and Calderón, including Forever Yours, Mary-Lou, by Michel Tremblay. 

Other original work includes Conservatory, and FRNKNSTN, a mutation of Mary Shelley’s classic, written for Theatre Lovett, both of which premiered at the Peacock. And he also wrote The Chinese Room, which played at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the USA in a production directed by James Macdonald. 

He was dramaturg on Webster’s The White Devil at the Globe, and Dead Centre’s Hamnet, which premiered at the Abbey Theatre. He has written plays for children, for radio and adapted an Oscar Wilde story for the English National Ballet. He teaches scriptwriting at Queen’s University Belfast and is published by Methuen. (Date of appointment: 09/03/2020)

The members of the Abbey Theatre board are members of the Company.


The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media is currently seeking to appoint two suitably qualified candidates as Members of the Board of the Abbey Theatre, further details here.  Closing date for receipt of applications is 3pm, Tuesday, 13th December 2022.