By Martin Gleeson
The great playwright Brian Friel, who died in October 2015, has been described as “one of the greatest English-language dramatists”.
Originally from Knockmoyle, Co. Tyrone, Brian was the son of a primary school teacher and postmistress.
The family moved to Derry when Brian was ten years old. He received his secondary education in St. Columb’s College, a Catholic Boys’ Grammar school in Derry. Other pupils of this school include Seamus Heaney, John Hume, Phil Coulter, Paul Brad, and Richie Kavanagh. Note that the first two of these were Nobel Prize Laureates.
After training in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth and St. Joseph’s Training College, Belfast, Brian taught Mathematics in Derry but took leave in 1960 to pursue a career as a writer. He moved to Co. Donegal, settling outside Greencastle
Brian wrote 14 plays in all, many of them about the people from his fictional town of Ballybeg. He worked as a writer and journalist but his big breakthrough came in 1964 with his play Philadelphia Here I Come. This was followed by The Loves of Cass Maguire and then Lovers.