Brian Friel dead: 'Translations' playwright dies aged 86

Friel was one of Ireland’s most noted dramatists and authors 

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The Independent Online

Brian Friel, the celebrated Irish playwright, has died after a long illness aged 86. 

Friel wrote more than 30 plays throughout his career, many of which were performed on Broadway, and all of which were about Ireland. 

Some of most celebrated plays include Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which was adapted for a film starring Donal McCann, and Dancing at Lughnasa, which was also made into a film starring Meryl Streep. 

Friel was born in Killyclogher, County Tyrone to a primary school father and a postmistress mother. Details of his life are shrouded in privacy and his exact birthday is not known, but he is believed to have been born on either 9 or 10 January 1929, according to the BBC

He began his career teaching maths in Londonderry schools for 10 years. He contributed short stories to The New Yorker in the 1950s, before quitting his job and living on his savings in order to persue a writing career. In 1963 he wrote Philadelphia! Here I Come, which was well received by critics and transferred to Broadway in 1966, propelling him to fame. 

Friel went on to co-found the Field Day Theatre Company with the actor Stephen Rea. Their first production, Translations, premiered at the Guildhall, Derry and Northern Ireland and starred Liam Neeson and Rea. 

Irish President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to Friel as “a man of powerful intellect, great courage and generosity”. 

“His legacy to the Irish people is immense,” he said. 

Friel is survived by his wife Anne, who he married in 1954, and their five children.