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Saturday 3 December 2016

'Field' anniversary is a family affair

Sharon McGowan

Published 29/04/2015 | 02:30

Mary Keane with sons (l-r) Conor, John and Billy at the opening night of ‘The Field’ at the Gaiety Theatre
Mary Keane with sons (l-r) Conor, John and Billy at the opening night of ‘The Field’ at the Gaiety Theatre
John B Keane’s grandchildren (l-r) Lucy Keane Sally O’Flynn, Evelyn O’Flynn, Johnny Keane, Maggie Keane and Maimie O’Flynn at the Gaiety

It may have been 50 years since 'The Bull' McCabe first trod the boards but John B Keane's iconic play was still able to bring a tear to his widow's eye.

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Among the crowds turning out for the 50th anniversary production of 'The Field' was the family of the late playwright.

As she crossed the threshold of the Gaiety Theatre, the playwright's 86-year-old widow Mary was fighting back tears as she beamed with pride.

"I'm on the verge of just bawling crying because it is so wonderful," she said. "It's beautiful, I'm just so thankful that his play is on here and that it's still working for people."

She said that John would have been at home among the crowds in the packed Dublin theatre had he been alive.

"John would be very happy with all. He'd be only delighted and he would love the buzz in here, and I have no doubt that he would be in the middle of it all."

The first production of the iconic play, which centred around 'The Bull' McCabe and his passion for land, was shown in 1965 with Ray McAnally taking the lead role and Keane's late brother Eamon as 'The Bird' O'Donnell.

This year's 50th anniversary production sees writer and actor Michael Harding take on the famous role of 'The Bull' McCabe.

Mary travelled along with members of the Keane family from Listowel in Kerry to see the special production of the drama and revealed she would be keeping a close eye on Michael Harding in the role.

Exciting

"This is my first time seeing him but I've been watching him very closely on television," she said. "I've seen it so many times at this stage I could nearly do 'The Field' for you myself."

The Kerry woman was joined by John's brother Denis, the last surviving of the Keane brothers. "It's very exciting because I was here for the opening night, and it's very special to be back again," he said.

Well-known faces at last night's premiere include actress-turned-author Claudia Carroll, presenter Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh and former minister Mary Hanifan.

Strong demand for tickets has seen the run extended by an additional two weeks until May 30.

Along with Harding, the cast includes Aidan McArdle as William Dee, Ian Lloyd Anderson as Tadhg and Catherine Byrne as Maggie Butler.

Irish Independent

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