Tributes pour in for Brian Friel

The late Brian Friel who died aged 86 on Friday.

The late Brian Friel who died aged 86 on Friday.

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Tributes have been paid to Irish playwright, Brian Friel, who died aged 86 on Friday morning.

Friel, who moved with his family to Derry in 1939, was born in Killyclogher in Co. Tyrone on January 9, 1929.

Friel’s father, Patrick Friel, was a school teacher in Derry and later sat as a councillor on the Londonderry Corporation.

Friel’s mother, Mary McLoone, was a post-mistress from Glenties in Co. Donegal.

A former pupil at St. Columb’s College, Friel went on to become a Mathematics teacher but gave up his teaching career to concentrate on writing plays. In 1967 he moved from Marlborough Street in Derry to Muff and eventually settling in Greencastle in Inishowen.

Friel married Anne Morrison in 1954 and they had four daughters and one son.

Described by many as the ‘Irish Chekhov’, Friel was best known for the plays ‘Philadelphia Here I Come’, ‘Translations’ and ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’.

Nobel peace laureate John Hume said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the death of my dear friend Brian Friel.”

“To put simply, Brian Friel was a genius. But he was a genius who lived, breathed and walked amongst us.

“His loss will be felt terribly by his family and his fans. However, we can count ourselves lucky that the treasure of his work will be with us forever.

Brian Friel (standing, far left) pictured during a read through of 'Translations' in the Guildhall in Derry in 1980. Included, from left, are actors Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea (seated, furthest left), BAFTA award winning actor, Ray McAnally (second from right) and well known Irish actor Mick Lally (far right). (Copyright: The Derry Journal).

Brian Friel (standing, far left) pictured during a read through of 'Translations' in the Guildhall in Derry in 1980. Included, from left, are actors Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea (seated, furthest left), BAFTA award winning actor, Ray McAnally (second from right) and well known Irish actor Mick Lally (far right). (Copyright: The Derry Journal).

“He had a unique ability to transform the local to the global and bring the past to the present which enthralled people the world over.

“He is rightly regarded as one of the greatest Irish playwrights of all time.

“I express my sincere condolences to Brian’s wife Anne, his daughters, son and wider family circle.”

Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said he was saddened to hear news of Mr. Friel’s death.

It was with great sadness I learned of the death of one of one of our greatest ever playwrights Brian Friel.

Martin McGuinness

“It was with great sadness I learned of the death of one of one of our greatest ever playwrights Brian Friel.

“Brian was a quiet, unassuming man who made a huge contribution to the arts and his work had universal appeal.

“I extend my sincere condolences to his wife and children at this difficult time.”

Foyle MP Mark Durkan said “in Brian Friel’s view of the world there were no small experiences and no small people, but there could be small-mindedness on the part of supposed big people or systems.

“The human truths to which his plays gave light are authoritative for global audiences while served in his authentic Ulster accent.

“I extend my sympathy to his wife Anne, his family and many friends at this very sad time.”

Brian Friel pictured with his wife Ann in 2009. Photo: Stephen Davison

Brian Friel pictured with his wife Ann in 2009. Photo: Stephen Davison

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the world of literature had “lost one of the giants of theatre.”

“The nation and the world have lost one of the giants of theatre.

“His mythical stories from Ballybeg reached all corners of the world from Dublin to London to Broadway and on to the silver screen. All of his plays, including Translations, Faith Healer, Philadelphia, Here I Come! and Dancing At Lughnasa, will forever form part of the canon of greatness in dramatic writing.

“The consummate Irish storyteller, his work spoke to each of us with humour, emotion and authenticity.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Elisha McCallion, said Friel will be remembered “as one of the most accomplished and successful writers of the last two centuries and I know his work, like that of Heaney, Yeats and Shaw will be celebrated throughout the ages.”

Having a chat at the official opening of the 30th Annual MacGill Summer School in  the Highlands Hotel Glenties. Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness with playwright Brian Friel and his wife Ann. Photo Thomas Gallagher 2007TG88

Having a chat at the official opening of the 30th Annual MacGill Summer School in the Highlands Hotel Glenties. Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness with playwright Brian Friel and his wife Ann. Photo Thomas Gallagher 2007TG88