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Irish Plays & Poetry

You should write a play.

I wrote 19 plays. A number of them have been made into films. The Field , probably my best-known work, was made into a film and Richard Harris got a nomination for an Oscar for the main role of the Bull McCabe. Then another novel of mine about the town Durango was made into a film by Hallmark Productions. They made a beautiful film, and they intend to do some more. First of all is the poem, which is sharp and tricky.

John B Keane's 'The Field'

If you fall from a horse in a fast race, you defeat the objective. I regard a poet to be like the fast horse. Next you have the hurdle. I believe that the jumping hurdle is like writing a play. If you take the hurdle badly, horse and rider can be damaged.


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If you foul up a play, it perhaps will be seen by the astute and unbridled critic. I was talking about this only last night to the Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham, a brilliant man and a great conversationalist. I compare the novel to the steeplechase because in a steeplechase, if you meet a tough fence, you might fall off but you can remount. I think that those are three analogies that are well-constituted. Mary and John at the John B. Keane tribute night. What are your thoughts about John Synge?

Some scholars claim that he was closest to the Irish people as a writer and yet, he was an uppercrust Protestant, removed by religion and social class from them.

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The murder that inspired Keane's 'The Field' - stomadwrathhocong.gq

What explains this irony? George Fitzmaurice was closer to the Irish people. He was a Protestant too — a descendant of the landed gentry. He and his family lived in the Bedford House near Listowel all their lives. It gurgles, it chortles, it whispers in wisps, and makes all sorts of wonderful sounds — beautiful sounds of the water spilling over and lapping against the stones — all different because of the ebb and flow of the water.

The Bardic Irish is court Irish, distinct from the Irish spoken by ordinary people in the s. At that time the government used to hire bards to do their office work, to write their letters and their histories and to draw up agreements. These people were known as an bhairdne.

They were the Irish literary people. It was a beautiful, romantic, colorful language, the most beautiful in the world at that time. And when these two languages fused, it begot a new language, a love child, as we would say here in Ireland — not a bastard, mind you, but a love child. That love child is the language that has assisted every writer in Ireland, one way or the other, but especially here over the centuries.

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I remember one time I knew an old matchmaker in the Stack Mountains just down the road here, a man called Dan Paddy-Andy — a beautiful sounding name. He made lots of matches in his time, but all his life he had courted a woman called Maire Din and eventually he won her over. They are the very same curls that brought Maire Din down from her perch and brought us sane and safely together. It suits, I would say, the poet, the playwright, the novelist, and the storyteller.

Lying is one of the greatest attributes of the storyteller.

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Could you talk about some of your own work and the importance of land to the traditional people? The characters seem ruthless, obsessed. They go to great lengths to fulfill their goals, even to the point of sacrificing others, in The Field , Bull McCabe connives to take a plot of land away from an old widow, which results in the death of a rival — a stranger from England.

John B Keane

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