A genius, both shy and modest, with a vicious turn of phrase
I first met him 35 years ago, when I was artistic director of the Dublin Theatre Festival. His company, Field Day, had just opened 'Translations' in Derry and he was allowing it to come to Dublin at Festival time. I say 'allowing' it because he thought the festival was "a horse race" but he felt the play would "sit well" at the Gate.
I had read all about him: his beginnings as a teacher, two years training for the priesthood - a clerical error - and his skirmishes with politics.
When I met him, he looked exactly as he had been - a schoolmaster. An enthusiast once observed: "How can genius look so ordinary?" But it was years later, on meeting Beckett, that I realised that both men were extraordinary in their ordinariness.