Brian Friel, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ Playwright, Dead at 86

Irish writer died in his home in County Donegal

Brian Friel, the Irish playwright who wrote the Tony-winning drama “Dancing at Lughnasa,” died Friday at his home in County Donegal. He was 86.

The acclaimed writer first emerged in the 1960s with “Philadelphia, Here I Come!” which followed a young Irisman on the verge of emigrating to America and earned a Tony nomination for Best Play in 1966.

But Friel is best known for the 1992 Tony winner “Dancing at Lughnasa,” which became a 1988 movie starring Meryl Streep as one of five unmarried sisters in rural Ireland in the 1930s.

Friel’s other plays include “Lovers,” another Tony nominee, “Wonderful Tennessee,” “Faith Healer” and “Translations” — which was revived at Broadway’s Manhattan Theatre Club in 2007.

He was born to a Catholic family in an an area that had recently been sectioned off as part of Northern Ireland. He was a also schoolboy friend of the Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney.