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Brian Freil with his wife Anne Morrison at the 2014 Donmar Warehouse production of Fathers And Sons (Photo: Dan Wooller/REX Shutterstock)

Brian Freil with his wife Anne Morrison at the 2014 Donmar Warehouse production of Fathers And Sons (Photo: Dan Wooller/REX Shutterstock)

Playwright Brian Friel dies

Published 2 October 2015

Brian Friel, one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, has died aged 86-years-old following a long illness.

The Irish writer’s staggering career saw him pen numerous iconic works including Translations, Dancing At Lughnasa and Philadelphia, Here I Come!.  

Today the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny described Friel’s death as a loss of one of the world’s “giants of theatre”, a sentiment echoed by thousands of people who paid tribute to the legendary and inspirational playwright on Twitter.  

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Born in Killyclogher in 1929, Friel began his writing career in the 1950s, penning radio plays. In 1962 his first stage play, The Enemy Within, played at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, who today released a statement commenting on the death of its long-time collaborator.

Fiach Mac Conghail, the Abbey Theatre’s Director, wrote: “Over the years, Brian Friel has become my close friend and mentor, encouraging me in becoming Director of the Abbey Theatre, and inspiring me in my role with his sound incisive advice and exemplary courage and integrity…

“I consider Brian Friel to be one of Ireland’s greatest nation builders who forensically interrogated and challenged the establishment of the Republic of Ireland. Brian Friel understood the power and ambiguity of memory in developing a sense of who we are as a people.”

Friel will be remembered as the playwright who brought Ireland to the world through his vivid works that delved into both the political and family dynamics of his home country.

His career saw him awarded an Olivier and Tony Award, and the playwright lived to see numerous major productions of his works on both sides of the Atlantic, as well on screen with Meryl Streep starring in a film adaptation of Dancing At Lughnasa.

He is survived by his wife Anne Morrison and four children, Mary, Sally, Judy and David.

 

"Brian Friel understood the power and ambiguity of memory in developing a sense of who we are as a people.”

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