McLaughlin, who was named best director at the 2019 Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, has been an associate director at the Abbey since 2017.
As artistic director, the theatre says, she will lead on its objectives relating to art and audience in the Abbey Theatre strategy.
O’Brien is currently director of Axis arts centre, in Ballymun in Dublin, where, the Abbey says, he has developed theatre as an engine for cultural and community engagement. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the theatre and wider culture sectors.
As the Abbey’s executive director he will lead on engagement with the local, national and international communities, the day-to-day running of the theatre and the redevelopment programme to create a new Abbey Theatre building as a resource centre for Irish theatre.
The board of the national theatre decided in in July 2020 to hold an open competition to fill two distinct leadership roles to deliver on its strategy and ambition over the next five years.
The two new directors, who will join the Abbey staff in early May, succeed Graham McLaren and Neil Murray, who continued during their time at the theatre with the joint approach to the roles that they had pioneered at the National Theatre of Scotland.