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Saturday 1 October 2016

Tributes flood in to genius of the stage

Published 03/10/2015 | 02:30

Tributes have flooded in for Brian Friel
Tributes have flooded in for Brian Friel

Tributes flooded in for a great Irishman across every sphere as the nation was plunged into mourning for a true giant of literature for whom there were "no small experiences".

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Brian Friel's "mythical stories from Ballybeg reached all corners of the world, from Dublin to London to Broadway and onto the silver screen".

Aosdána, the association of artists, described Friel as "irreplaceable".

The writer was elected by Aosdána members as a Saoi, or Wise One in 2006 - an honour limited to only seven artists in the country.

The Abbey Theatre, in a statement, said: "The flurry of fax messages back and forth between Greencastle and Abbey Street is no more with Brian Friel's passing."

Meanwhile, outgoing Artistic Director of the Abbey, Fiach McConghail, said he would "miss him desperately".

He said Friel was "one of Ireland's greatest nation builders who forensically interrogated and challenged the establishment of the Republic of Ireland".

Theatre Director Patrick Mason said Friel's scripts were "things of extraordinary beauty".

"Generosity and modesty were the hallmark of this great Irishman, who never strayed far from his roots," said Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, former President of Saint Columb's College in Derry - of which Friel had been a past pupil.

Noel Curran, Director General of RTÉ said Friel's connection with his audience was "always powerful and real."

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said the playwright had brought Ireland, and in particular Donegal, to the world.

Sheila Pratschke, Chair of the Arts Council, said Friel's legacy is a truly remarkable canon of work, which has already achieved classic status in his lifetime.

Actor Stephen Rea, who set up the Field Theatre company with Friel in 1980, paid tribute to: "that humanity, that connection with his audience and his masterly writing", which had made him "a unique figure in Irish and world theatre."

Nobel peace laureate John Hume and SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan issued a joint statement to mourn the loss of their fellow St Columb's alumnus, with Mr Hume describing him as "a genius who lived, breathed and walked amongst us."

Irish Independent

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