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Brian Friel RIP (1929-2015)


The late Brien Friel qualified as a teacher through study at St Joseph’s College (amalgamated with St Mary’s in 1985) from 1949 to 1950. He had previously earned a BA from St Patrick’s College, Maynooth (1945-1948), and between 1950 and 1960 he worked as a teacher of mathematics in the Derry area.

The County Tyrone native has been acknowledged as one of the great playwrights of his generation. His best known plays, Philadelphia Here I Come, Translations and Dancing at Lughnasa, have been performed around the world. He was also a founding member of the Field Day Theatre company in 1980, a group often associated with the desire to create a cultural “Fifth Province” in Ireland where the political divisions of the island might be resolved in a new form of cultural discourse.

Friel’s education at St Joseph’s is part of a rich literary heritage of writers associated with the College’s Trench House site in Andersonstown. Writers include the late Seamus Heaney, both a student and a lecturer at the College, and Michael McLaverty, who took up a lecturing position alongside Heaney in 1964.

Brian Friel died at the age of 86, and his funeral took place in County Donegal on 2nd October.