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Sadness at passing of playwright Brian Friel

The late Brian Friel

The late Brian Friel

Tributes have been paid to the playwright Brian Friel who passed away this morning.

A former Donegal Person of the Year, he was widely regarded as not only a leading Irish writer but one of international stature.

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Aged 86, Mr Friel had suffered a long illness.

Brian Friel was born in Killcogher, near Omagh in 1929 and moved with his family to Derry when he was 10 years old.

He was educated in St Columb’s College, Derry – also the alma mater of poet Seamus Heaney and politician John Hume.

Having become a teacher, he moved to Donegal in 1967, three years after his first stage success, Philadelphia, Here I Come, which was followed by a series of internationally regarded successes. He has been living in Greecastle since then. His love for Donegal was well known and his family connections with Glenties informed much of his work through ‘Ballybeg’, a fictional village.

Dr Joseph Mullholland, director of the MacGill Summer School, in his tribute referred to a ‘lovely man’ but also one who held strong views on a wide range of subjects, including Nothern Ireland.

Dancing at Lughnasa, probably his most successful play, in 1992 won three Tony Awards.

He is survived by his wife Anne, three daughters and a son.

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