Development And Alumni Relations Office


16 November 2020

Queen’s Foundation has been awarded a grant of £234,600 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and a gift of £14,612 from The Steel Charitable Trust towards the Friel Reimagined project.

Friel Reimagined will focus on the heritage and legacy of the writings of Brian Friel, Northern Ireland's most acclaimed dramatist, short story writer and founder member of the Field Day Theatre Company. Friel was NI’s leading playwright and is widely recognised as one of the greatest dramatists of his generation.

The funding will enable the University and its staff to digitise an important selection of the Friel archives, in collaboration with the National Library of Ireland (NLI), who hold the archives on behalf of the Friel Literary Estate. Funding will support the employment of a Project & Outreach Manager over two years and an Archivist for twelve months. The project will digitise and provide access to Friel’s archives through JSTOR and deliver two years of targeted creative outreach and engagement with diverse communities. The collection comprises almost 3000 documents, including early drafts of Friel’s plays, reviews and comments, diary entries and personal letters.

In a unique opportunity provided by these collective funds, our staff will be able to share these special archived collections with a new diverse and – due to the digital aspect – a global audience. Within the project, staff hope to directly engage, through a range of activities, 150 people who have not traditionally engaged with heritage, including BAME communities, young offenders and female prisoners, people from disadvantaged communities, and young people from challenging backgrounds. Additionally, 600 people across NI will be engaged through in-person exhibitions and masterclass events coinciding with the project.

Dr Paul Murphy, Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts, English and Languages, said:

“In recognition of his artistic endeavours, Friel was awarded the title of Saoi (wise one), the highest honour of Aosdána, the Irish parliament of artists. Past recipients of this prestigious award include his fellow Northern Irish writers, Seamus Heaney and Samuel Beckett, who are also celebrated on the global stage. The project will explore the Friel Archive, the material legacy that Friel has left behind. Friel Reimagined will give a new generation of audiences across Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK, and globally, the opportunity to engage with and explore this unique heritage resource.”

Friel Reimagined will focus on the archives relating to five of Friel’s most acclaimed works: Philadelphia, Here I Come! (1964); Freedom of the City (1973); Faith Healer (1979); Translations (1980); Dancing at Lughnasa (1990). This selection is comprised of almost 3,000 documents, including early drafts, edits and personal comments on his plays; alongside diary entries and personal correspondence.

Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, of The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“We’re delighted to support this wonderful project, which give a new generation of audiences across Northern Ireland the opportunity to explore the work of one of our leading playwrights. At The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are dedicated to preserving and protecting our local heritage, whilst also ensuring a wide and diverse audience has the opportunity to access and benefit from it. We wish Queen’s Foundation all the best and look forward to seeing the outcomes of the project.”.

For further information contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer.

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