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JOHN B'S PLAYS OF SEXUAL TENSION, GREED AND BITTERNESS

IF IRELAND had a national playwright in the second half of the 20th century, then it was John B Keane.

From the 1940s to the 1990s the Listowel native scripted a series of plays, many of which came to be regarded as modern Irish classics.

Big Maggie, The Field, Sive and The Year Of The Hiker are now regarded as major works in Irish drama.

Like most of his 19 plays, they explore the greed, bitterness and sexual tensions in mid-century rural Ireland.

"The language spoken in Kerry is a mixture of Bardic English and classical Irish and that is where I draw my inspiration from," he once said.

After 20 years of writing, Keane's breakthrough occurred in the 1960s when Sive, Big Maggie and The Field were adapted into the mainstream repertoire of the Abbey Theatre.

In tandem with his writing, Keane ran a pub in Listowel for decades, and founded the renowned Listowel Writers' Week. He died in 2002, at the age of 73.


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