30 May-John B Keane

John B Keane was a playwright and novelist who was a native of Co Kerry, Ireland. He was also the author of ‘Letters of a Successful TD’ and ‘Letters of a Love-Hungry Farmer’. Keane was a member of Aosdána and an Honorary Life Member of the Royal Dublin Society.

John Brendan Keane was born in Listowel Co Kerry in 1928. He was educated locally and in 1946 began working as a chemist’s assistant. He later said that his chief task there was preparing ointment for the Earl of Doneraile’s piles. In 1951 Keane moved to England where he worked at various jobs. He returned to Ireland in 1955 and bought a pub in his native Listowel. The pub gave him the opportunity to observe the changes in rural Ireland during his lifetime.

Keane’s first play ‘Sive’ was rejected by the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. However it won first prize in the All-Ireland Drama Festival in Athlone in 1955. The play was a great success but was not staged by the Abbey Theatre until 1985. By then Keane was a popular playwright, novelist and essayist. He went on to write 26 publications including, The Field (1965), Big Maggie (1969) and Moll (1991).

John B Keane, playwright and novelist died at his home in Listowel, Co Kerry in the year 2002 On This Day.

John B Keane

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