Brian Friel: A life’s work of plain magic

A conjurer of transcendence, Friel nonetheless spoke straight to us

4th October, 2015
Brian Friel: his commentary on Irish culture and society was incisive, illuminating, sometimes

I spoke to Brian Friel just once. Writing an obituary for the actor Donal Donnelly, who had played Gar Private in Friel’s breakthrough play Philadelphia, Here I Come!, I phoned Friel to ask if he’d like to contribute.

“Don’t you know?” he said. “I never speak to journalists.”

That was a shame. Because in the years when Friel did speak to journalists (till roughly the...

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