Friel Reimagined

‘Friel Reimagined’ is a Queen’s University Belfast research project and is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Steel Charitable Trust.

From 2021-2023, the project’s intention is to uncover new insights about Brian Friel’s career as a playwright through his personal archive of papers relating to five of his best-known plays – Philadelphia, Here I Come!, The Freedom of the City, Faith Healer, Translations and Dancing at Lughnasa. This digitised archive, including manuscript drafts of the plays, correspondence and press clippings, will be made accessible to the public through an archival website, community outreach workshops, an online and in-person exhibition and public events and masterclasses.

I was one of five Northern and Southern Irish illustrators chosen to reinterpret and reimagine one of Brian Friel’s five plays, and was assigned ‘Translations‘.


A map of Ballybeg (An Bhaile Bheag) Translations is considered to be one of, if not the finest, of Brian Friel’s plays. It takes place in late August 1833 at a hedge school in the townland of Bhaile Beag, an Irish speaking community in County Donegal. A party of Royal Engineers has arrived with the purpose of creating the first Ordnance Survey of the area; for cartographic purposes local Gaelic place names have to be recorded and translated into English. At first sight this is a purely administrative action; but Friel reveals and investigates its far reaching personal and cultural implications in the course of the play.

Ballybeg Bun na hAbhann / Burnfoot

Ballybeg Poll na gCaorach / Sheep’s Rock

The Hedge School: Manus and Sarah ‘Soon you’ll be telling me all the secrets that have been in that head of yours all these years’.

Jimmy Jack Cassie ‘I was just thinking to myself last night: if you had the choosing between Athene and Artemis and Helen of Troy -all three of them Zeus’s girls – imagine three powerful-looking daughters like that all in the one parish of Athens! – now if you had the picking between them, which would you take?’

The Royal Engineers: Lancy and YollandI think your countryside is – is – is -is very beautiful. I’ve fallen in love with it already. I hope we’re not too – too crude an intrusion on your lives. And I know that I’m going to be happy, very happy, here.’

Night: Máire and Yolland ‘I would tell you how I want to be here – to live here – always – with you – always, always.’