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.
We’re very sad to learn of the passing of Brian Friel, many of whose plays we were lucky enough to stage. Our thoughts are with his family.
— Hampstead Theatre (@Hamps_Theatre) October 2, 2015
Brian Friel’s Translations was one of the first plays I truly loved. A lyrical lilting writer who seemed to find truth effortlessly. RIP.
— Jack Thorne (@jackthorne) October 2, 2015
The world has lost an Irish literary legend- RIP #BrianFriel
— Killian Donnelly (@killiandonnelly) October 2, 2015
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.