Brian Friel, a master playwright of the thing often left unsaid…

Sorry to hear about Brian Friel. He was a Tyrone man, who loved Donegal like a native. It shines through in his writing. Like many people my first encounter with his work was Philadelphia Here I Come

Two lines stick out for me. Canon Mick O’Byrne’s classic “you wait, says she, till the rosary is over and the kettle is boiled.”  And Private Gar‘s soliloquy just before his friends awkwardly pile out of his father’s house on their last time of leaving…

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Or as Dominic Cavendish puts it he had “a fascination with the intricacies and treacheries of language, the barely containable (and describable) enigmas of the human character and the ineffable nature of experience”.

Famously reclusive himself and Seamus Heaney remained good friends and were known to have a jar or two together (with Davy Hammond) of a daytime in an obscure and very rural Donegal pub when they were least likely to be discovered or bothered by strangers.

He was nominated to be a member of Seanad Éireann by the Taoiseach in 1987 and served for two years.

RTE Rattlebag from 1995, on the twenty fifth anniversary of Field Day and Translations and the attempt to transcend narrow binaries of the northern Irish conflict.

  • kensei

    My favourite quote from Philadelphia was always the conclusion of that scene with his friends:

    No one will ever know or understand the fun there was; for there was fun and there was laughing— foolish, silly fun and foolish, silly laughing; but what it was all about you can’t remember, can you?
    Just the memory of it—that’s all you have now—just the memory; and even now, even so soon, it is being distilled of all its coarseness; and what’s left is going to be precious, precious gold…

    We might be deluding ourselves but there is still something valuable and human in it.