Leading figures in the world of theatre have paid tribute to Ireland’s preeminent playwright Brian Friel, who died October 2nd 2015, aged 86.
Born in 1929 in Killyclogher, near Omagh, Brian Friel was the son of a schoolteacher, and a postmistress from Glenties in Donegal, and went on to become known as the Irish Chekhov as his plays were performed across the globe.
“The Irish nation and world theatre community is grieving the loss of an extraordinary and major playwright of our times,” Abbey Theatre director Fiach Mac Conghail said in a statement.
“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.”
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he was “humble man, he was also a national treasure and a truly unique individual.”
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “There was Seamus Deane, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel and Stephen Rea.
“These were people who were well grounded within the community and who understood.”
Sheila Pratschke, chairwoman of Ireland’s Arts Council, said: “The Irish theatre and arts world generally is devastated by this sad, sad loss.”
“Brian was an inspiration to Irish playwrights, actors, directors and theatre- makers. It is the mark of the man and his achievement as a writer that his work is conjured by use of his surname only.” “He was, quite simply, a giant, not only of Irish, but of World Theatre,” the Arts Council said in a statement.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said today was “a truly sad day for Irish cultural life. We have lost an iconic figure and tremendous artistic craftsman. Enda Kenny said Ireland and the world had 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 onto the silver screen,” he said. “
All of his plays, including Translations, Faith Healer, Philadephia, Here I Come! and Dancing at Lughnasa, will forever form part of the canon of greatness in dramatic writing.”