Brian Friel

– a playwright who gave voice to the heart and the resilience of the Irish spirit

The Irish Writers Centre is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Brian Friel. Known as one of the greatest Irish playwrights of our times and renowned for Philadelphia, Here I ComeTranslations and Dancing at Lughnasa, Friel proved himself to be a versatile writer who was skilled at adaptations and penned two fine short story collections.

His impact has extended beyond the realm of writing, both at home and abroad. While Friel succeeded in bringing the realities of life in rural Ireland to a worldwide audience and placed contemporary Irish theatre at the forefront of international playwriting, he was also instrumental in addressing issues such as identity, language, migration and culture, and gave voice to those on the margins. His works showed the heart and the resilience of the Irish spirit and their enduring legacy are as relevant as ever today.

Brian was known to be generous in spirit and was especially supportive to other writers showing them a genuine kindness. His generosity was enriched with a great sense of humour. 

The loss of this unrivalled playwright will reverberate across nations and down through the generations. Our most sincere condolences to Brian’s family and friends. 

 ‘Brian Friel’s plays gave expression to the perennial conundrums of Irish life and identity by holding up a mirror to ourselves with a wit and acumen that made us laugh and cry, and wonder what the future will hold. He is a huge loss and will be sadly missed.’

Valerie Bistany, Director of the Irish Writers Centre

 ‘Brian Friel was a foremost writer of his generation. His influence is enormous and his kindness to writers, particularly emerging writers, has been invaluable. May he rest in peace.’

Liz McManus, Chairperson of the Board of the Irish Writers Centre

Brian Friel