herald

Tuesday 28 January 2020

The Bard of Listowel has been silent for 10 years

HOW TIME flies. I cannot believe that it's 10 years today since the death of the Bard of Listowel, John B Keane.

It's hard to believe the voice of this brilliant man, playwright and author, has been silent for a decade.

From a room above his pub on Market Street in my Co Kerry hometown, John B surveyed his kingdom, giving us world-renowned plays, and even a weekly column in the Herald.

From his little eyrie he crafted the flow of humanity into unforgettable prose.

John B was a classmate of my elder brothers. He was a private man and he could be caustic in his way, not suffering fools gladly.

I remember an American visiting his bar once. Before he left he told the writer that he really enjoyed meeting him, but he had a complaint: "There is no lock in your men's room."

The playwright replied: "Musha, you needn't worry your head about that. I'm here for 30 years and there was nothing ever stolen from that place."

Listowel Writers' Week starts today. It's a fitting tribute to the great man.

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