Prestigious award for playwright Friel

One of Ireland’s finest playwrights, Brian Friel, is to be presented with a major award by President Mary McAleese today in an honorary ceremony.

Ms McAleese will present the Donegal playwright with a gold torc after the members of Aosdana elected him a Saoi.

Aosdana, which was established by the Arts Council in 1981, honours artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland.

The 208 members of Aosdana elect a Saoi for sustained distinction in the arts following nominations by its members.

The secret vote is made by post, and over 50% of the electorate must agree on the choice of Saoi. Up to five people are granted the honour at any one time, with Friel joining Louis le Brocquy, Benedict Kiely, Seamus Heaney and Anthony Cronin.

Friel’s Faith Healer, starring English Patient actor Ralph Fiennes, Ingrid Craigie and Ian McDiarmid, is currently playing to sold out audiences in the Gate Theatre, where all tickets were snapped up before the opening night.

The playwright has also won Best Play in London’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards for The Home Place last November.

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