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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Irish author Keane dies
Playwright John B Keane
The writer lived in a pub in County Kerry
The Irish writer and playwright John B Keane has died at the age of 73 from cancer.

One of country's best-loved playwrights, Keane wrote 18 plays about life in Ireland, drawing inspiration from his hometown of Listowel in County Kerry.

One of them, The Field, a story about a land dispute in Ireland, was turned into a film starring Richard Harris and Brenda Fricker.

Keane was diagnosed with prostate cancer eight years ago which had become steadily worse in recent years.

He died at his home in Listowel - a popular a public house named after him.

Raconteur

He could often be found enjoying himself in the pub, entertaining regulars and tourists with his storytelling.

He once said of the town: "I am never stuck for words - all I have to do is look out of the window."

John B Keane
Keane drew on his home town for inspiration
His diverse literary career has covered drama, short story writing, poetry and novel writing as well as being described as a raconteur.

From the start of his writing career in the 50s, Keane was one of Ireland's best-loved and most-performed playwrights, but was often derided for being parochial.

Keane's first attempt at playwriting, Sive, won the all-Ireland Drama Festival in 1959 when it was performed by the Listowel Drama Group.

Themes of many of his subsequent plays were the changes going on in rural Ireland and emigration.

Broadway

He wrote a musical entitled Many Young Men of Twenty in 1961, which spawned a hit single.

And theatre audiences flocked to see the staging of Big Maggie in 1969, which eventually transferred to Broadway.

One of Keane's biggest commercial successes was the adaptation of The Field which was transformed for the cinema by Jim Sheridan, director of My Left Foot.

The Field also starred Sean Bean alongside Fricker and Harris, as well as Keane's late brother Eamon.

Fricker also appeared in the television version of Keane's novel Durango in 1999.

Keane's work has also been performed at the Edinburgh Festival.

Broadcaster Fergal Keane is his nephew.

See also:

22 Jul 02 | Entertainment
04 Dec 00 | N Ireland
29 May 02 | Entertainment
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