‘Once’ the little Irish Broadway show that could won eight Tony awards on Sunday night and swept most of the Broadway accolades.

The Irish show’s dominance was unexpected in what was considered a very competitive year.

The New York Times stated that  the “bittersweet romantic musical “Once” was the unexpectedly dominant winner at the 66th annual Tony Awards on Sunday night.”

Variety stated that “"Once," the Broadway musical that turns razzle-dazzle tuner traditions on their head with a hushed and idiosyncratic take on an indie-style love story with a melancholy ending, topped the 2012 Tony Awards, nabbing eight of the 11 awards for which it was nominated.”

The show was written by Irish playwright Enda Walsh from the John Carney movie of the same name  and featured the music of  former couple Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. including their hit song ‘Falling Slowly.’ 

It is the story of a Dublin street musician who meets a recent immigrant and they fall in love and face many obstacles as a result.

It is a small budget, intimate musical with all the action taking place on one set, a Dublin pub.

Audience members are free to stroll on the set of the pub set before and during the intermission of the performances, creating an intimate bond between performers and the audience.

The show beat out “Newsies” the Disney big budget blockbuster which won only 2 Tonys after being nominated for 11.

Glen Hansard  tweeted at the start of the ceremony: “Wishing all the cast and crew of the Once musical the best of luck for the Tonys tonight in NYC! And the Irish team of course! Ole ole ole!!”

Hansard, 42, was formerly a member of the Irish band The Frames and left school at 13 to become a street musician. “Once”  is partly based on his own love affair with fellow musician and Czech immigrant Marketa Irglova.

Hansard has remarked about his musical influences: "In my house, when I was a kid, there was the holy trinity, which was Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan with Bob sitting center."

Coincidentally, Hansard will be in concert at the Beacon Theater, site of this year’s Tonys, at the end of June.

There was a poignant moment when Steve Kazee who plays the Hansard role on Broadway picked up the best actor award for the show and told the audience how other cast members had got him through the tragic death of his mother in April.

He said the cast "carried me around and made me feel alive and I will never be able to fully repay them."

Irish president Michael D. Higgins had attended the opening night of the show on Broadway and had predicted great commercial and artistic success.

The success of the show had also been heraledd by a hugely positive review in The new York Times when critic Ben Brantley wrote; “Once” .. is exotically modest by the standards of loud, expensively dressed Broadway. But in its new incarnation this musical reveals itself to be a show that was always meant (and probably lusting) for a brighter limelight and a bigger stage. You have to watch out for those shy ones.”

The cast of Once performing at the 2012 Tony Awards:

'Once' Wins Eight Tonys:

Nina Arianda (L) and Steve Kazee pose backstage with their awards during the American Theatre Wing's 66th annual Tony Awards in New YorkREUTERS