Meet The Artist: Garth McConaghie

Garth McConaghie is a 42 year old Composer, Sound Designer and Musical Director originally from Ballycastle but currently living in Belfast.

Garth is best known for his work as Musical Director for the hit TV show Derry Girls.

How did you get started in the industry?

Word of mouth and hard work.

What genre / style do you create in?

I write cross-genre music for mixed media, theatre and TV. You might hear anything from jazz and classical, to musical theatre, folk and electronica.

What would you be best known for?

Original theatre music in Northern Ireland and Derry Girls.

What would you consider your biggest achievement?

Climbing an active volcano in Indonesia. It took 9 hours to get to the top.

What would you consider to be the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your industry?

Just that there’s never ever a conclusion to exploring and learning.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

Some theatre shows have posed large creative as well as practical challenges, but re-writing a score through the night from scratch, in Sydney, Australia…to a deadline for BBC network Comic Relief…was a wee bit of a challenge.

Tell us a little about your personal life, are you married, kids, hobbies etc?

I live in East Belfast, where all the cool people live, but my family are in beautiful Ballycastle and I’m super-proud of coming from the North Coast.

I’m a big fan of horror movies, particularly ones from Asia, it’s a whole new level of cinematic terror. I wear garish Nike Air trainers. I’ve travelled quite a bit and like wearing baseball caps.

I have a godson called Freddie who’s approaching 1 year old.

I love alternative comedy and my favourite comedians are Vic and Bob, Larry David and the Sunny in Philadelphia gang.

I’m on a lifelong quest to find the world’s greatest cheeseburger!

Tell us about your most recent work?

Under the Hawthorn Tree, with Cahoots NI, which toured Ireland just before lockdown.

The Miami Showband Story, GBL Productions.

In the Name of the Son, Greenshoot Productions.

A Christmas Carol, at the MAC Belfast.

Macbeth, with Big Telly.

What would you like us to tell people about?

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, get on it.

If you had to describe your work to someone who has never heard of you what would you say?

Visceral. Emotional. Genre bending and blending.

What’s the funniest experience you’ve had in your business?

NI’s too small to share specific anecdotes, but doing a satirical comedy play called Forget Turkey at The Lyric in Belfast a few years ago, was great fun. Constant laughter with the director and cast. We all look back on it fondly.

What would your advice be to young people hoping to pursue the same industry?

It will become a love affair and the lines between work and life in general will always be blurred. Combine talent with hard work and meet the deadlines.

Anything else you want to tell people about yourself or your work?

One of the things I love the most about work is marvelling at other creative people doing what they do brilliantly, stage managers, designers, actors, amazing people! It’s a wonderful world to be part of. Also, I love how vibrant and creatively diverse Northern Ireland’s theatre scene is becoming. It’s never dull.

Who do you look up to and why?

Simon McBurney, Artistic Director of Complicité theatre company. He constantly pushes the boundaries of what is achievable in theatre, whilst simultaneously managing to keep the work widely accessible and mesmerising. He makes Complicité the best and most exciting contemporary theatre company in the world.

Garth’s next production is the new Cahoots NI show the University of Wonder & Imagination. The show is an hour-long interactive digital theatre production that allows audiences to effectively direct the performance, based on their interaction with the performers. The University of Wonder & Imagination will be making it’s Northern Ireland premiere at the Belfast International Arts Festival from October 22nd – 25th and 29th – November 1. For more information or to book go to or  


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