herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Final curtain falls as Brian Friel laid to rest

The playwright's remains are carried to his final resting place
The playwright's remains are carried to his final resting place

Master playwright Brian Friel was laid to rest yesterday in Glenties, the setting of some of his greatest works such as Dancing at Lughnasa and Faith Healer. 

The writer died peacefully at his home in Greencastle, Co Donegal, on Friday morning surrounded by his family.

Among those who gathered to say a final farewell were actor Stephen Rea, who co-founded Field Day theatre company with Friel in 1980, film and theatre producer Noel Pearson and actors Sean McGinley, Eamon Morrissey and Gerard McSorley.

READ MORE: 'Brian's death a great loss to theatre' - Dancing at Lughnasa star

Director of the Abbey Theatre Fiach Mac Conghail, broadcaster and writer John Kelly, composer Bill Whelan and Marie Heaney, the widow of Friel’s great friend, the late Seamus Heaney, also paid their respects.

The chief mourners were Friel’s wife Anne, daughters Mary Bateman, Judy Maher and Sally Sultan, son David and sister Mary. He was predeceased by his daughter, Patricia, in 2012.

There were two graveside eulogies from poet and critic Tom Paulin and playwright Thomas Kilroy.

“Theatre people have very mixed feelings about the final curtain,” Kilroy said. “The show is over, the lights have been switched off and the curtain has come down.

“But there is something else. There is something mysterious, something beautiful about the final curtain.

“Because in the final curtain there is always the promise of the next performance. The curtain will go up again, and the show will go on.”

Paulin described Friel (86) as “the warmest and most loyal of friends”.

Friel wrote more than 30 plays during his career including Translations, Dancing at Lughnasa,  Molly Sweeney and Philadelphia, Here I Come!

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