Acclaimed Irish playwright Brian Friel has died aged 86 after a long illness. _85871406_frielbbc Friel is best known for plays such as Translations, Dancing at Lughnasa and Philadelphia, Here I Come. He was born in Killyclogher, County Tyrone in 1929. He worked as a teacher in Londonderry before moving to County Donegal in the 1960s. In 1992, Friel won three Tony Awards for Dancing at Lughnasa. The play was later made into a film starring Meryl Streep. Obituary: Brian Friel Irish President Michael D Higgins said Friel was "one of the giants of Irish literature, and a great Irishman". "To have had the privilege of knowing Brian Friel as a friend was an immense gift," he said. "He was a man of powerful intellect, great courage and generosity. These were talents that he delivered with great humour, grit and compassion." "His legacy to the Irish people is immense." Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Enda Kenny said Friel's writing "will forever form part of the canon of greatness in dramatic writing". "The consummate Irish storyteller, his work spoke to each of us with humour, emotion and authenticity," he said. Shiela Pratschke, chairwoman of Ireland's Arts Council, said Friel had earned himself recognition among the world's greatest playwrights. "The Irish theatre and arts world generally is devastated by this sad, sad loss," she said. "Brian was an inspiration to Irish playwrights, actors, directors and theatre makers."

'Renowned'

"It is the mark of the man and his achievement as a writer that his work is conjured by use of his surname only." Irish Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said he was one of the country's "truly great playwrights" and a household name "on the international stage as well". "He was renowned on Broadway, where many of his plays ran to great acclaim. Through his writing he brought Ireland, and particularly Donegal, to the world," she said." Carál Ní Chuilín, Northern Ireland's culture minister, said Friel "had a rare ability to delight audiences with plays that are both entertaining and thought-provoking". "Friel belongs to the canon of great Irish writers. His affection for everyday subject matter was matched by his understanding of the human condition," she said.

Breakthrough

Friel was born on either 9 or 10 January 1929, with the precise date never being confirmed. He began writing while working as a teacher in Derry. In 1954, A Sort of Freedom - his first play - was broadcast by the BBC. In the same year, he married Anne Morrison and the couple had five children: Mary, Paddy, Judy, Sally and David. His major breakthrough came ten years later when Philadelphia, Here I Come was performed on Broadway. 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. Previously, Rea had described the writer as being "completely in tune with Irish audiences". "There is something innate in the plays where he speaks very directly to an Irish audience and we found the audience for him."

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Brian Friel: Famed Irish playwright dies aged 86

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