In 1980, Declan released Wavelength, a 17-minute short that he directed and produced. Throughout the 1980s, he worked for Irish national broadcaster Radio Telefís Éireann. He became known for directing musical concerts, including the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, for which he won a Jacob’s Award. Into the 1990s, he directed the Bob Marley biopic Time Will Tell (1991) and The Velvet Underground’s 1993 tour Live MCMXCIII.
After directing some Penn and Teller shows and the Jo Brand series Through the Cake Hole, Lowney met with writers Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan about directing a new sitcom they had written called Paris. He did not get the job, but Matthews and Linehan remembered him when they were putting together a production team for their next sitcom, Father Ted. Lowney took input from Linehan and Matthews on set, and the three often refined the scripts during filming. One of Lowney’s favourite episodes is Song for Europe, which mocks the frequency Ireland wins the Eurovision Song Contest, and features a music video scene. For his work on two series and the Christmas special, Lowney was the co-recipient of the 1995 BAFTA Television Award for Best Comedy (Programme or Series).
After the taping of an episode, Lowney was met backstage by Christine Langan, a Granada Television producer who wanted him to direct Cold Feet, an ITV Comedy Premiere. Lowney agreed and Cold Feet was filmed in 1996, though not broadcast until 1997. It was a success, winning the Golden Rose of Montreux and a British Comedy Award.
In 2000 Lowney directed his debut feature Wild About Harry. The following year, he directed the first series of Paul Whitehouse’s Happiness, which was nominated for a BAFTA. He returned for the second series in 2003. In 2005, he directed Whitehouse’s Help, and the third series of Little Britain. Help won Lowney his second BAFTA and Little Britain secured him another nomination.
In 2008, he directed a major television advertising campaign for Reveal magazine. In 2009, he directed the RTÉ sitcom Never Mind the Nursing Home and three episodes of the ITV romantic comedy Married Single Other, which were broadcast in early 2010. In 2010, Lowney directed a performance of Riverdance in Beijing in high-definition. The performance was scheduled for release on Blu-ray to mark 15 years of the troupe.
Declan is currently in post production on the eagerly anticipated Alan Partridge movie, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa which is scheduled for release in autumn 2013.