Gary Scully brings to Nenagh Arts Centre on May 25 a one-man show mixing the genres of stand-up comedy, spoken word, amateur dramatics, videography, live music and good old-fashioned storytelling.

‘I tell it how it is’

Popular secondary school teacher Gary Scully has summoned the courage to perform a spoken word show at Nenagh Arts Centre later this month.

It will be the first gig of its kind for Gary, who was invited to perform at last year's Nenagh 800 awards on the strength of his Butterfly in the Storm project, in which he deals with themes ranging from his own “demise into chaos”, to light-hearted reflections on life, to homage to his hometown of Nenagh.

All of this and much more will feature in Gary's gig on Saturday, May 25, which is happening as a result of him somewhat reluctantly giving in to long-made calls for him to bring his unique take on the spoken word genre to the stage.

“Of course it is a daunting prospect - I am crapping myself already!” said the artist, whose medium has to this point been mostly spoken word videos. He did not set out with the intention of tailoring his art for the stage.

“But,” Gary is quick to reason, “if you never venture, you never gain. On that stage, in the midst of the angst, the uncertainty and the self-doubt, is where you will find yourself. On your lonesome, under the lights, with no one holding your hand, is where you will feel most alive.

“It is be brave time, it is worth the risk. As I mention in one of my pieces, joy lives outside the cocoon that we all bury ourselves in.”


The deep above muse perhaps best sets the tone for Gary's spoken word, a genre that presents as something new and perhaps misunderstood by many. “The spoken word genre is when you perform poetry or prose to music rather than it being written or sung,” Gary explains of his art.

“It is not as reliant on a drum beat as rap music is. Spoken word can be argued to have more impact than the written word. Calm down, people - I only said can be argued… I am obviously a huge fan of the written word too!”

Indeed, one of Gary's greatest influences is the poet Seamus Heaney, whose home village of Bellaghy in Co Derry he visits every year. Musically, he cites the likes of Sigur Rós, The Smashing Pumpkins and The National among key peers. “My friends mock me, but I am not above listening to a bit of Enya either!”

Gary grew up playing in local rock bands including My Corduroy and later Wolf Kids. He plays piano and guitar.

“I have been writing poetry since my teens and so it made sense that at some stage I would combine these two passions and merge them together in the form of spoken word. It just took me longer to pluck up the courage to go public with it - that step can be daunting.”


This progression culminated in Gary setting up his solo project. He called it Butterfly in the Storm as an analogy of a person going through a rough time.

“A person that is being dealt harsh blows by life, just like a butterfly being tossed about in the wind. In my play, the protagonist is going through a rough time.”

He started verbalising ideas across a huge span of themes, from religion to Einstein's Theory of Relativity, to battles with his own personal demons. He put the words to music and brought them to visual life with the creation of thought-provoking videos that he released on Facebook and YouTube.

A science teacher at Nenagh CBS, Gary says his motivation is in many ways fired by his endless curiosity and questioning of the world around us.

“When everything around you fascinates you, then you have lots to work with,” he said. “So, across my work, I have explored complex science themes such as simulation theory, block universe theory, the cosmos - but I also draw on more simple universal themes such as life struggles, family, people and places, and I often lash a lot of emotion into a composition.

“If something catches my interest, I write about it. Simples.”

Gary's compositions are all his own homework. He makes the videos himself using a screen room set up in his house.

“All the videos that I have done have been recorded using my mobile phone, believe it or not. Coming up with a good idea is probably the hardest part. My ideas generally stem from the content in the poem that I am recording.”


Gary also draws inspiration from the positive reaction to his work. As well as growing a widespread social media following, his words have been quoted by the likes of bestselling author Donal Ryan, another key influence in his writing.

“I am surprised and encouraged at the response to my spoken word efforts,” the Nenagh teacher conceded. “I am grateful that people lend me their ears and take time out of their day to listen.

“People seem to follow the story that I am telling, and they can often resonate with the theme. I don’t sugar coat my life, I tell it how it is, and I think people respect honesty.”

One of the biggest reactions he got was his ode to his hometown, ‘Nenagh, Mo Stór’ (‘Nenagh, My Love’), which Gary released to great local acclaim last year.

“Good old Naynagh town. I am a huge fan; there is no denying it,” he commented.

“I am a Nenagh boy, through and through. My piece, ‘Nenagh, Mo Stór’, was my homage to Nenagh. It’s highly biased, by the way. It’s the people, the places, the music and the sports that impressed me as I grew up.

“It was actually written in Donegal for my Donegal friends, to give them a flavour of my home town.

“I will live out my days in this dinger of a town… and, no doubt, it will continue to seep into my spoken word.”


No doubt there will nods to Nenagh aplenty at Gary's upcoming gig, which will be opened by talented local musician Marko - Mark Hogan.

Welcoming all to the show, Gary said his only goal for the night is to try and entertain the audience.

“I will endeavour to make you laugh with stories of mischief from my childhood. I will seek to tug at heart strings through the spoken word that charts my demise into chaos and I will hopefully leave you smiling as I stumble through a few live music pieces; they might come a cropper, which makes it all the more fun!”

Doors open at 7.20pm. Marko will be onstage at 7.30pm, followed by Butterfly in the Storm at 8pm. Tickets (€10)available at or call (067) 34400.

You can check out Gary's spoken word material by searching for Butterfly in the Storm on YouTube and Spotify.