Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Friel’s death was a loss to Ireland and the world.
Brian Friel was born in Killyclogher, near Omagh, Co.
Ireland’s greatest playwright of his generation, who died Friday at the age of 86, spent much of his life trying to convey the deeper truths of our existence – of a world filled with compelling fictions constructed by people, families and whole nations.
Brian Friel distrusted the reliability of mere facts.
In 1954, he married Anne Morrison, with whom he went on to have five children: Mary, Paddy, Judy, Sally and David. Friel lived in County Donegal, Ireland.
Beloved of professional and amateur theatre groups, Friel’s work remains extremely popular in Ireland.
“Faith Healer”, seen in 1979 as well in 2006 in a revival starring Ralph Fiennes, followed a man who questions his gifts.
“Brian Friel is truly one of the greatest playwrights our country has ever produced”.
Image caption Meryl Streep and Brian Friel at a screening of the film version of his play Dancing at Lughnasa.
“Brian Friel’s canon of work constitutes a living, evolving history of Ireland”, Mac Conghail added.
“It is with great sadness that I have heard of the passing of Brian Friel who was and will be remembered as one of the giants of Irish Literature, and a great Irishman”.
“His power and persistence, his intelligence and humour, his enormously generous hospitality and friendship informed all of our activities”, he told The Irish Times.
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). Were it not for the steadfast devotion of the Irish Repertory Theatre, which produces his plays off Broadway at regular intervals, he would be even less familiar to New York audiences.
“Dancing at Lughnasa” won three Tonys in 1992.
“He is rightly regarded as one of the greatest Irish playwrights of all time”.
He also proudly served as a senator in the Upper House of the Irish parliament between 1987 and 1989.
Of the many tributes and honours he received for his work, one included his handprints being immortalised in bronze outside the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin alongside the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and fellow playwright John B Keane.
In 1980 he founded Field Day, a roving theatre company and supporter of pan-Irish culture, with a distinguished board including Stephen Rea (pictured above with Friel), Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin and Seamus Deane.