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Tuesday 22 October 2019

'Mr Moonlight trial was like the field - I'd love to film it', says Sheridan

Gardai at the Fawnagowan farm, where the body of Bobby Ryan was found in 2013
Gardai at the Fawnagowan farm, where the body of Bobby Ryan was found in 2013

Film director Jim Sheridan has revealed he attended the Mr Moonlight murder trial and would be interested in turning the story behind Bobby Ryan's death into a documentary.

The trial of farmer Patrick Quirke attracted unprecedented public interest with its tales of sex, love, rivalry and land ownership.

Mr Ryan and his killer had both been involved with the same woman, widow Mary Lowry.

Dubliner Sheridan said he was "in the court a few times" during the trial and "curiosity" was his main reason for attending.

Classic

"I didn't really want to pursue the family because I know everyone will be pursuing them, but I think it would make a very interesting documentary," he said.

Sheridan directed the classic film The Field, which has been noted for its similarities to the Ryan case.

"If the family approach me to see if I could do anything on it, then I would," he said.

"I mean, it is The Field. It reminded me of it. That's why, subconsciously, I went along to have a look. Land, the whole thing, it's all there. It's very like it."

Quirke received a life sentence nearly two weeks ago for murdering Mr Ryan, a part-time DJ known as Mr Moonlight.

Describing how Quirke seemed to him to be an "isolated" character, Sheridan said the fallout in the tight-knit Tipperary community where he lived must be immense.

Bobby Ryan
Bobby Ryan

"The whole thing, it's all so fraught with tension and anger, and to step in the middle of that would be hard," he said.

"There are so many people involved, my heart goes out to them. It's a tragic story."

Billy Keane, the son of The Field author John B Keane, has already said the trial could have been named The Field 2.

"My dad John B Keane wrote The Field back in 1965 as a warning over the 'unappeasable greed for land'," he said.

Dumped

"The trial of Patrick Quirke had much in common with both the play and the subsequent movie."

Director Jim Sheridan
Director Jim Sheridan

Netflix has produced several successful true crime films recently, and it is believed it could possibly show an interest in telling the story.

Mr Ryan was murdered and dumped in a pit on the Fawnagowan farm, which was owned by Mary Lowry but which Quirke operated, in June 2011.

His body was found nearly two years later.

The Central Criminal Court jury convicted Quirke on a 10-2 majority verdict after finding he killed the father-of-two in a fit of jealousy and greed.

Quirke had been having an affair with Ms Lowry - who was the widow of his wife's brother - but was envious of her budding relationship with Mr Ryan.

He was said to be hurt that she had ended their liaison, which she described as "seedy".

He was also worried about losing control of the Lowry farm.

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