In 1980, he co-founded the Field Day Theatre Company with actor Stephen Rea – their work became known as an artistic response to the violence and politics that divided Northern Ireland at that time.
The teacher turned writer was born in Killyclogher, near Omagh, County Tyrone, in 1929.
Genius is not a function of celebrity, and most of those who know his work agree that when the roll of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century is drawn up, Brian Friel’s name will be inscribed on it.
“He describes the events that lead to the fracturing of the Mundy family in the summer of 1936 in the town of Ballybeg in County Donegal, Ireland”, she said in a release.
“To have had the privilege of knowing Brian Friel as a friend was an huge gift”, he said.
Friel also served as a senator in the Irish parliament and his portrait was displayed in Ireland’s National Gallery.
The Minister said: “Friel belongs to the canon of great Irish writers”.
Brian Friel, Ireland’s best known playwright of the latter half of the 20th century whose plays including “Dancing at Lughnasa”, “The Faith Healer” and “Translations” were performed throughout the world, died on Friday aged 86, Irish media said. The school is the alma mater of Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney.
The funeral of one of Ireland’s greatest playwrights has taken place today in Donegal.
Friel was often hailed as the Irish Chekhov – which does credit to the subtlety of his characterisations but perhaps implies a softness along with a relish for tragicomedy belied by a few of his flintier, more formally daring and political works (there’s a savagery in a few of the plays, not least those written during the height of the Troubles, like Volunteers).
At a superficial level, it may be the case that, yes, his legacy has been to create transient, barely perceptible flickers of enlightenment – yet if we are to do him justice we should be wary of taking him at his word.
And in 1987 he was appointed to the Seanad by Taoiseach Charles Haughey.
“His power and persistence, his intelligence and humour, his enormously generous hospitality and friendship informed all of our activities”, he told The Irish Times.
He was a member of the Royal Society of Literature, the Irish Academy of Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.