Born on the 9th of January, in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, Friel was educated at St. Patrick’s College before moving on to St. Mary’s Training College, finishing in 1950. He then spent ten years teaching in Londonderry but he moved to full-time writing in 1960 when The New Yorker began to publish his stories regularly. His first dramatic success, ‘Philadelphia, Here I Come!’, seeing staging at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1964, received a Tony Award nomination in 1966 for best play.
Friel then went on to write a prolific amount of works, from ‘The Loves of Cass McGuire’ in 1966, to ‘Making History’ in 1988. His best known work, however, is debatably ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, a play he wrote in 1990. It won a Laurence Olivier award in 1991 and a Tony in 1992. Friel was also known for his adaptations of the work of Anton Chekhov, including ‘Uncle Vanya’ and ‘The Yalta Game’. Friel had also co-founded a theatre company in Londonderry (the Field Day Theatre Company) in 1980.
Philadelphia Here I Come
Fed up with the dreary round of life in Ballybeg, with his uncommunicative father and the humiliating job in his father’s grocery shop, with his frustrated love for Kathy Doogan who married a richer, more successful young man and with the total absence of prospect and opportunity in his life at home, Gareth O’Donnell has accepted his aunt’s invitation to come to Philadelphia. Now, on the eve of his departure, he is not happy to be leaving Ballybeg.