Artistic Director Joe Dowling runs through a scene during a rehearsal at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, on Oct. 14, 2009.
Dawn Villella—AP
October 2, 2015 8:47 AM EDT

Brian Friel, the acclaimed Irish playwright behind Translations and Philadelphia, Here I Come!, has died at age 86.

He had been sick with an unspecified illness, the BBC reports. Born in the village of Killyclogher in 1928, he worked as a teacher before writing short stories and plays in the 1950s and 60s. He earned tremendous acclaim for his breakthrough play, 1964’s Philadelphia, Here I Come! In 1992, his play Dancing Lughnasa won three Tony Awards, including one for Best Play. It later became a movie starring Meryl Streep.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins called him “one of the giants of Irish literature, and a great Irishman.”

“He was a man of powerful intellect, great courage and generosity,” he said. “These were talents that he delivered with great humor, grit and compassion.”





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