Friday 22 February 2019

President leads tributes to 'unique' playwright

Playwright Tom Murphy
Playwright Tom Murphy

Playwright Tom Murphy has been praised for his "deep and enduring legacy" following his death at the age of 83.

President Michael D Higgins was among those paying tribute to a man who he said portrayed the "very essence" of Irishness - immigration, famine and loss - while his work was at the same time universal.

Murphy was a teacher and a factory worker before he made his breakthrough as a playwright in 1961 with the family tragedy A Whistle In The Dark.

His award-winning plays were performed around the world.

Galway's Druid Theatre Company, where he was previously writer in residence and with whom he worked for more than three decades, led the tributes to him yesterday.

The company said it was "deeply saddened" by his death and had lost a "friend, colleague, great Irish writer and a great man of the theatre".


The company's statement continued: "A native of Tuam, Co Galway, Tom Murphy, already an established Irish writer, became Druid's writer in residence in 1983.

"His relationship with Druid marked an important step for the young company and led to a decades-long relationship culminating in the productions of DruidMurphy in 2013 and Brigit/Bailegangaire in 2014. For four decades, his work resonated with Irish audiences, creating a deep and enduring legacy."

Druid first produced plays by Murphy in 1984 - Famine and On The Outside - before premiering his Conversations On A Homecoming and Bailegangaire, featuring Siobhan McKenna, in December 1985.

Druid toured the work widely during the 1980s.

Dominic Dromgoole, of London's Globe Theatre, called them "one of the finest examples in the world of a company of actors and director giving particular life to a writer".

Mr Higgins said Murphy had made an outstanding contribution to Irish theatre, adding: "We have had no greater use of language for the stage than in the body of work produced by Tom Murphy.

"His themes were not only those which influenced the very essence of Irishness - immigration, famine and loss - they were universal in their reach.

"From the early beginnings of his writings in Tuam, Tom Murphy produced a unique and often provocative body of work.

"He was above all the great playwright of the emigrant, more than anyone capturing, in a poignant, creative way, the transience that is at the heart of the emigrant experience."

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