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Ten years on, children give their verdict on famous playwright

HE died long before any of them were even born but children in John B Keane's home town believe that he is famous for one thing -- his handwriting.

The famous playwright died 10 years ago today and fittingly, a new literary award in his honour will be presented at Listowel Writers' Week, which will be officially opened by President Michael D Higgins later this evening.

Yesterday, first- and second-class pupils at Drumclough National School, just outside the town, told the Irish Independent what they knew of the town's most famous son, even if they were a little sketchy on some of the details.

"He had very good handwriting," proclaimed Joe O'Connell (8) from Lixnaw. Garry Dillon (7), from Leam in Kilflynn, said he would like to become a writer.

"He wrote about farmers," said Garry, clearly impressed by the subject choice, being a farmer's son himself.

"He worked in that yellow building in the town," said another pupil, referring to the Seanchai Centre, which houses a room dedicated to the playwright's memory.

President Higgins will present the inaugural Mercier Press John B Keane lifetime-achievement award tonight to poet Anthony Cronin, who will receive a specially commissioned sculpture by Rowan Gillespie.

Throughout the week, Listowel will host readings, lectures, art exhibitions, theatre and concerts.

Irish Independent