Garrett Lombard (45) is an Irish actor. Since he first appeared on stage in John Breen’s ‘Alone it Stands’, he has been mesmerising audiences in a wide range of roles – from works by Arthur Miller to Tom Murphy. Born in Gorey, Co Wexford, he now lives in Dublin.
What were you like growing up?
I grew up in Gorey, the second of five. I was fairly free-spirited – climbing trees and jumping off things. My party piece was stripping down to my underwear, tying a towel around my neck and becoming Superman.
I was big into sport. My mother said that wherever I went, there was a ball with me – a rugby ball or a tennis ball. I liked adventures like camping.
What three words best describe you?
Adventurous. optimistic and philosophical. I try to stay on an even keel.
Acting runs in your family...
My parents met on the stage over 50 years ago. They both acted. By day, my dad was a solicitor and my mam was on every committee in the town. They were also involved with the amateur drama group in Gorey Little Theatre.
Did it spill over into domestic life?
They would be doing their lines in the kitchen while mam was making the dinner. There was always a bit of play-reading going on. And the Irish literary giants were often in the house and around. It was all part and parcel of growing up.
What sparked your own acting?
I started when I was very young and I felt quite comfortable when I was on stage. I loved the idea of it. The audience come in and watch live performers take them away to this imaginary world.
Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock. They did it in 1987 in July. You’d have the summer tourists in Gorey and I’d get a seat in the front row. Da was Captain Boyle and Ma was Maisie Madigan. A whole other world opened up to me with that piece of history.
Best advice you give?
I tell all young people to travel.
Best advice you were ever given?
In terms of acting, love what you are doing and love the craft of it. If you stay in love with it and mind it, it’ll pay you back.
You’re in Billy Roche’s ‘The Cavalcaders’ – what’s that about?
It’s set in a cobbler’s shop in Wexford where these four men work together. They also sing in a barbershop quartet. It’s about friendship, betrayal, loyalty and looking back on one’s life – but there’s a lot of fun in it too. Billy writes beautifully, all that small-town nod-and-a-wink language.
Did you pick up any new skills?
We had to learn the [cobbler’s] basics – how to put on a sole and how to stitch. I wouldn’t say that we became professionals, but we now know enough to be able to act it.
How did you fare during Covid?
I decided that I wasn’t going to sit around in lockdown anymore. Just before Covid, I was doing The Cherry Orchard with Druid and that got cancelled. I decided to do something completely different.
I’m a scuba diver and free diver. I first did it 20 years ago in Thailand and I’ve been doing it ever since. So in the lockdown I found a course in marine conservation in Thailand and volunteered for it.
What did that involve?
I worked on taking up rubbish and shipwrecks and fishing nets that were caught on the coral. After three months of that I travelled to Phuket, and worked as a freelance scuba-diver instructor.
What is free-diving exactly?
It’s scuba diving without a tank. Basically, you train to hold your breath. It’s very meditative, mostly psychological. We have lots of oxygen in our body that we don’t know about. I can hold my breath for seven and a half minutes.
How do you do it?
You train through exercises and meditation. You learn not to panic when that control kicks in, so that enables you to stay under way longer than you would believe possible.
When you get to about 12m under the water, you hit zero gravity. It’s an amazing feeling and you have beautiful tropical fish and amazing coral all around you.
How do you feel afterwards?
When you come up, you’re very mellow. You feel at peace.
Druid’s tour of ‘The Cavalcaders’ by Billy Roche runs from May-July. Venues and dates at druid.ie