In 2006 he won an Obie Award for Best Play for "The Lieutenant of Inishmore".
He was nominated in 2006 for the Drama Desk Award for Best Play for the Broadway production of "The Lieutenant of Inishmore".
In 2006 he was nominated for Best Play at the Tony Awards for "The Lieutenant of Inishmore".
In July 2006 he was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)
At the age of 27 he was the first playwright since Shakespeare to have four plays running simultaneously in London's West-End
For his first play "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" he won the 1996 Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright.
He began his writing career by scripting radio plays. None of them were ever produced but they taught him he could write dialogue and storytelling and in his own opinion that was all you needed for Theatre
In 1996 he won the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright for his first play "The Beauty Queen of Leenane".
It took five years to stage his Broadway and West-End hit The Lieutenent of Inishmore because all the major Theatres in London passed on it. In the case of the National Theatre according to McDonagh it's artistic director Trevor Nunn refused it on the grounds that it's staging might be inflammatory and disrupt the Northern Ireland peace process
In his first play The Beauty Queen of Leenane there is a section where the main character Maureen tells Pato of the racist abuse she received while working as a cleaner in England. McDonagh has been quoted on saying that this was inspired by the stories he would hear from his own mother who heard similar abuse while she worked as a cleaner in London.
Although all his plays except for the Pillowman are based in Ireland and he regards himself as an Anglo-Irish playwright he has never lived full time in Ireland.
His father was a construction worker and his mother was a cleaning lady in London when he was growing up
Along with other modern day playwrights Conor McPherson and Jez Butterworth. McDonagh is seen to be one of the key innovators of a new genre of theater that has become known as "In your Face" Theatre. It's function is to present the the audience with vulgar, shocking, and confrontational material on the stage.
When his first play "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" and its follow-up plays became instant hits on both sides of the Atlantic, McDonagh had the reputation of being a wild man. Whenever asked a question he was never afraid to tread on toes and he replied with provocative answer. This got him the title of being the enfant terrible of theater. After a couple of run-ins with the tabloids most notably the Sean Connery incident at the Evening Standard Awards in 1996, he now rarely gives interviews and these are given only when they are really necessary.
In 1996 he won the Writers Guild Award for Best Fringe Play at the Edinburgh Fringe festival
In 2002 he won the Czech Theatre award entitled The Alfred Radok Award for Best Play. He won for the final installment in his worldwide famous Leenane trilogy. The final installment is entitled "The Lonesome West".
In 2003 he won his second Alfred Radok Theatre award for best play. This time He won for his political West End hit "The Lieutenant of Inishmore".
In 1998 he was won the Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play. His play "The Beauty Queen of Lenane", tied with "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde".
He won the 1998 Outer Critics Award for Best Broadway Play for "The Beauty Queen of Leenane".
At the 64th Annual Drama League Awards he won the Best Play category for his Broadway hit "The Beauty Queen of Leenane".
In 1997 his play "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" was nominated for the BBC Play of the year award at the Olivier Awards.
His play "The Lieutenant of Inishmore," at the Northlight Theatre was nominated for a 2009 Joseph Jefferson Award for Production of a Play (Large).
His play "The Pillowman," at the Redtwist Theatre in Chicago, Illinois was nominated for a 2010 Joseph Jefferson Award (Non-Equity Division) for Production of a Play.
Since moving into film, McDonagh has frequently used actors that have also appeared in the original theatre runs of his plays. In "Six Shooter", Ruaidhri Conroy, Aishling O'Suillivan & Gary Lydon had appeared in "The Cripple of Inishmann" in 1996 at Royal National Theatre, London. It also featured David Wilmot and Domhnall Gleeson who were in the Original US run of "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" at the Lyceum, NY. Wilmot had previously originated the role of Padraic in the U.K production of the same play in London. The "Seven Psychopaths" boasted Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell who were also in Mc Donaghs "A Behanding in Spokane" at the Gerald Scheonfeld Theatre, NY. Zeljko Yvanek was in " Seven Psychopaths" and "In Bruges", and he originated the role of Ariel in "The Pillowman" at the Booth theatre, NY in 2005.
His play, "The Cripple of Inishmaan," at the Redtwist Theatre was nominated for a 2013 Non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Play Production.
His play, "The Cripple of Inishmaan," in a Druid, Center Theatre Group and Atlantic Theater Company production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles, California was awarded the 2012 Back Stage Garland Award for Production.
Personal Quotes (5)
I can't stand up in front of people. It just fills me with horror.
I've been on a treadmill of plays in London and here [New York]. It's a great treadmill to be on, but I finally had to step back and maybe live a little bit more and grow up and travel and see what kind of writer or person I've become.
I suppose I walk that line between comedy and cruelty because I think one illuminates the other. We're all cruel, aren't we? We are all extreme in one way or another at times and that's what drama, since the Greeks, has dealt with. I hope the overall view isn't just that though, or I've failed in my writing. There have to be moments when you glimpse something decent, something life-affirming even in the most twisted character. That's where the real art lies.
In Bruges (2008) was relentless and exhausting. I had to deal with them [Focus Films, the production company] trying to change anything they could change. And Focus are supposed to be supportive, indie-filmmaker-friendly people. Scumbags. It was constant war, but they never won.
...the amount of control for a playwright is almost infinite, so you have that control over the finished product. But in film, you're the lowest form of life. So that was half of the job of directing, was not letting someone else come in and fuck it up. And then the other half is to learn how the hell you actually do it, which is another kettle of fish.