Tributes paid to late, great playwright Brian Friel

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Tributes have been pouring in for the late great playwright, Brian Friel, who sadly passed away at the age of 86 on Friday, October 2.

Mayor, Elisha McCallion, led the tributes.

She said: “I was deeply saddened today to hear the news that today Ireland has lost one of the greatest playwrights and writers of our time, Brian Friel. Brian Friel’s links with Derry extend back through the decades, first as a schoolboy at the Long Tower and St Columb’s, and later as co-founder of production company Field Day in 1980, when he was one of the great minds behind the revival of Derry’s drama scene.

“His own lifelong passion for the land of his birth is resonant in his many sensitive and stirring reflections on the world of rural Ireland, and some of his greatest works including Dancing at Lughnasa and Philadelphia Here I Come have captivated audiences across the world, from the stages of the Guildhall to Broadway.

“Brian 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.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “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.”

Nobel laureate John Hume said: “I am 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.

“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.”

Foyle MP Mark Durkan added: “We mourn the passing of a gentle literary giant whose ear for human nature and eye for universal truths made his drama simply compelling.

“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.

“Brian was a man of formidable intellect and fond spirit. He could be robust in his views but always modest of himself. His own attainments in his literary discipline did not prevent him from being warm in his appreciation of and to so many others. It was a privilege to hear his insights and encouragement on the power and use of language and his belief that political discourse needed to find new resonances without ignoring older truths.”