Wednesday 18 October 2017

Playwright awarded highest honour in the Irish arts world

President Michael D Higgins conferred the Golden Torc on Tom Murphy at his home in Dublin. Photo: Maxwells
President Michael D Higgins conferred the Golden Torc on Tom Murphy at his home in Dublin. Photo: Maxwells
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

Playwright Tom Murphy has been bestowed with the honour of the Golden Torc and the title of 'Saoi' for his contribution to Irish literature.

The title is the highest honour of Aosdána - the affiliation of Ireland's artistic community.

President Michael D Higgins conferred the symbol of the Office of Saoi of Aosdána on the Galway playwright, selected by his peers. Not more than seven members of Aosdána may hold this honour at any one time.

The President said that Mr Murphy's body of work, which includes 'A Whistle in the Dark', 'The Sanctuary Lamp' and 'Famine', has been of an "immense and unique kind".

"He has been above all the great playwright of the emigrant, more than anyone capturing in a poignant, creative and provocative way the transience that is at the heart of the emigrant experience," the President said.

"The uncertainties and contradictions experienced by migrants informed his great early plays, which drew furious critical responses when produced on the stage in the London of the 1960s."

President Higgins said that he went on to produce a body of work of "extraordinary brilliance".

"In that work, there is something that sings to us, a beauty is emerging, through the work of a genius willing to take all the risks - such is the contribution of great theatre, and Tom Murphy has been a master in that regard," he added.

The President said Mr Murphy has challenged the limits of the genre and showed himself to be "a master of dialogue".

Irish Independent

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