President leads tributes after Irish success at Olivier Awards

Fishamble Theatre Company and actor-writer Pat Kinevane took home an award for 'Silent'

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Actress Denise Gough holds her Best Actress award for her performance in the play 'People, Places and Things' at the Olivier Awards in London. Image: Joel Ryan / AP/Press Association Images

It was a very strong showing for the Irish at the prestigious Olivier Awards in London last night.

The Dublin based Fishamble Theatre Company and actor-writer Pat Kinevane took home the Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre award for the play Silent.

Wexford actress Denise Gough won Best Actress for her role in People, Places and Things, while the London-Irish writer Martin McDonagh's Hangman won Best New Play and Set Design.

President Michael D Higgins congratulated the Irish laureates.

"The Olivier Awards are the most prestigious theatre awards in the United Kingdom and the awards won by Irish nominees are a great recognition and tribute to Irish theatre".

"May I send my warmest congratulations to Pat Kinevane and Fishamble theatre for their Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre award for 'Silent', to Martin McDonagh winning Best New Play for 'Hangmen', to Sally Rogers who stars in the play and collected the award on behalf of Martin McDonagh, and to Denise Gough who received Best Actress theatre award for her role as Emma in the play 'People, Places and Things', written by Duncan Macmillan".

"I wish them every success - May I also convey my best wishes to the countless actors, actresses, directors, stagehands, playwrights, designers, choreographers and many others that make up Irish theatre".

"Their work reminds us of the vitality and indeed importance of culture and of theatre in the life of our nation", he added. 

While acting Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said the night was a 'tremendous success' for the Irish. 

“When we see Irish successes on this scale at ceremonies such as the Olivier Awards, it underlines the importance, and indeed the benefits, of providing funding to Culture Ireland, which helps Irish artists to bring their work overseas and helps to showcase Irish talent internationally," she said.

Arts Council Chair Sheila Pratschke says Irish artists are once again shining brightly on an international stage.

Elsewhere, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Nicole Kidman all missed out on awards as lesser-known stars stole the night.

However, Judi Dench did set a new record - she has now won eight Olivier awards over her career.

She was named Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Winter's Tale at the ceremony in London. 

You can see a full list of winners here.