President Higgins leads tributes to legendary Irish playwright Tom Murphy who has died aged 83
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President Higgins leads tributes to legendary Irish playwright Tom Murphy who has died aged 83

THE iconic Irish playwright Tom Murphy has passed away at the age of 83.

Among the Galway native's best-known works were A Whistle in the Dark, Bailegangaire, The Sanctuary Lamp and The Gigli Concert.

His plays have been performed across the world since the 1960s.

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Mr Murphy after news of his death broke late last night, saying that his contribution to Irish theatre was "immeasurable and outstanding”.

The President said: "We have had no greater use of language for the stage than in the body of work produced by Tom Murphy since his earliest work in the 1960s.

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"His themes were not only those which had influenced the very essence of Irishness, immigration, famine and loss - they were universal in their reach".

He added: "It was such a joy to meet Tom so many times over the years, and a particular pleasure for any of us who have been privileged to call him our friend."

Prominent figures in the arts world have described the award-winning playwright as “the unraveller of life”, “vital and intellectually fierce" and his works as “incredible plays and magic words”.

Irish actor Stephen Jones described Mr Murphy as "the greatest".

He tweeted: "Working on his plays while the great man was there in the room was the highlight of my career thus far.

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"I treasured getting to chat to him about an essay I had written on his work while I was in college. Thoughts with his family and friends".

The Irish Times' drama critic Fintan O'Toole said: "With the death of the great Tom Murphy a giant has fallen and there is a gap in the world.

"Almost 60 years staging our darkest fears and deepest yearnings".

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Novelist Pádraig Kenny added that Mr Murphy was "possibly the most vital and intellectually fierce playwright this country has ever produced.

"I'll never forget the Abbey's Murphy season in 2001. I almost had to be carried out after Bailegangaire. RIP," he said.

In a statement, the Druid Theatre Company in Galway said they were devastated to hear of Mr Murphy's death.

"Tom's relationship with Druid marked an important step for the young company and led to a decades long relationship," they said.

"For four decades his work resonated with Irish audiences, creating a deep and enduring legacy.

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"Today we have lost a friend, a colleague, a great Irish writer and man of the theatre."