Brian Friel (b.1929)
Friel was born in Omagh, County Tyrone, but moved to Derry at the age of ten. Having attended St Patrick's College, Maynooth and St Joseph's Training College, Belfast, he worked as a primary school teacher until 1960, at the same time publishing short stories in various periodicals, including the New Yorker. In 1962, he published his first collection, The Saucer of Larks, and saw his first major theatrical work The Enemy Within produced to critical acclaim. This paved the way for Philadelphia Here I Come!, which was staged as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1964 and firmly established Friel's reputation. Two years later, Friel published his second collection of short stories, The Gold in the Sea. From Co. Donegal, to which he moved in 1967, he kept an interested eye on political developments in Northern Ireland, producing a number of works, including The Freedom of the City, inspired by events there. He was a founder member in 1980 of Field Day, the theatre company that staged his new play Translations. That work and his more recent Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) have become classics of Irish theatre. Friel has penned more than twenty plays in total, including adaptations of work by such writers as Turgenev and Chekhov, demonstrating consistently both formal innovation and an extraordinary skill in the writing of dialogue.
Mick O'Dea (b.1958)
Born in Ennis, County Clare, Mick O'Dea is a portrait painter based in Dublin. He studied at the National College of Art and Design, the University of Massachusetts, and more recently at the Winchester School of Art in Barcelona and Winchester, by which he was awarded an MA in European Fine Art in 1997. He has taught and lectured throughout Ireland and in the United States, and has won numerous awards, including the Keating McLoughlin Medal at the RHA in 1993, the Taylor de Vere Award for a work of Distinction in any medium at the RHA two years later, and several at the Arnotts National Portrait Awards Exhibitions. He was elected both a Royal Hibernian Academician and a member of Aosdána in 1996. O'Dea has participated in several residencies in Ireland, and has contributed to exhibitions and symposia in Ireland, Latvia, the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States. In 2005, he held a Salon in the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Examples of his work are to be found in the permanent collections of many public and private institutions.