Martin McDonagh (born 26 March 1970) is a contemporary Anglo-Irish playwright. He was born in Camberwell, London, to Irish parents. His mother (originally from Killeenduff, Easky, County Sligo) and his father (originally from Lettermullen, Connemara, County Galway) later moved back to Galway, leaving Martin and his brother (screenwriter John Michael McDonagh) in London, where Martin began collecting the dole at age 16.
During visits to Galway in the summers, McDonagh became acquainted with the curious dialect of English spoken in western Ireland, which he would later put to work in his plays. His ironic combination of coarse country language, primal symbology and black humour represents a peculiar fusion of the work of John Millington Synge with the modern drama of Harold Pinter, David Mamet and British television comedy.
He has been awarded London Critics' Circle Theatre Awards for Most Promising Playwright in 1996.
He has to date developed two dark comedic trilogies, the Galway trilogy and the Aran Islands trilogy, as well as some radio plays.
Though many find his work unique, he owes great debts to American writers Beth Henley and Sam Shepard, whose influences and tones are quite apparent in McDonagh's work, especially The Beauty Queen of Leenane.
In March 2006 he won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for Six Shooter a film he wrote and directed.
The Leenane Trilogy
The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1996)
The story of the disfunctional relationship between a spinster and her domineering mother, during the course of which the former faces her last chance at love, and the latter faces a rather grim end. Nominated for Tony Award for Best Play in 1998.
A Skull in Connemara (1997)
A Connemara man has the job of smashing the skeletons in old graves, and his newest customer is the wife he killed years before, which may or may not have been accidental.
The Lonesome West (1997)
An Erinization of Sam Shepard's True West, in which two brothers bicker in the aftermath of the supposedly accidental fatal shooting of their father. Nominated for Tony Award for Best Play in 1999.
The Aran Islands Trilogy
The Cripple of Inishmaan (1996)
A little crippled boy schemes to get a part in Man of Aran. Dark comedy ensues.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2001)
The insane leader of an IRA splinter group has just found out his best friend has been killed. The best friend is a cat...
The Banshees of Inisheer
The grand finale of the Aran Islands trilogy.
The Pillowman (2003)
McDonagh has also written The Pillowman (2003), in which a horror writer is interrogated after several local children are murdered (awarded Laurence Olivier Award for Best new play in 2004), and The Mamturk Rifleman.
In 2006, Martin McDonagh won an Oscar for his short film Six Shooter.
Six Shooter, which is the playwright's first move into film, boasts an impressive list of Irish talent including Brendan Gleeson, Ruaidhri Conroy, David Wilmot and Aisling O'Sullivan.
The black comedy follows Gleeson as he makes a sad train journey home, just hours after his wife's death, but on the trip he encounters a strange and possibly psychotic young man. The short film was shot on location in Wicklow, Waterford and Rosslare.
After winning his Oscar for Six Shooter, McDonagh entered into an agreement with Focus Features to direct a full length feature from his screenplay "In Bruges," about two hit men who hide out in Bruges after accidentally killing a child. As of July 2006, Colin Farrell was reportedly cast in the feature.