President Higgins' tribute to playwright Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Tom Murphy, who was originally from Tuam, County Galway, died on Tuesday night

Irish president Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to award-winning playwright Tom Murphy, who has died aged 83.

Mr Murphy, originally from Tuam, County Galway, died on Tuesday night.

He worked closely with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and the Druid Theatre Company during his career.

In 1961 his first full length work, A Whistle in the Dark, was performed in London after initially being rejected by the Abbey Theatre.

Described as an "intense, angry play" it was set among Irish emigrants in England.

Image copyright PA
Image caption President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to Mr Murphy

Paying tribute to Mr Murphy, President Higgins said: "The importance of Tom Murphy's contribution to Irish theatre is immeasurable and outstanding.

"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.

"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."

As well as A Whistle in the Dark, Mr Murphy's other significant works included The Sanctuary Lamp, The Gigli Concert and Bailegangaire.

His plays were performed all over the world.

'Deep and enduring legacy'

The Druid Theatre Company in Galway said it was very saddened by Mr Murphy's death.

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

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

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