It is 50 years since John B. Keane’s classic story ‘The Field’ was first staged. Thomas Myler tells the story behind one of the most popular Irish films ever made – plus enter a competition to win a pair of tickets to the hit play at The Gaiety

Playwright, poet, novelist, essayist and ballad writer, John B Keane was one of the most prolific literary figures of the last century – a colossus whose death 13 years ago, May 30, 2002 to be exact, was mourned at home and abroad. It is said that there is hardly a home in Ireland without a John B. Keane book.

Two of his stories were turned into movies, The Field and Durango. But it is The Field which is best remembered because of its sharper story, more defined dialogue and particularly as it had a major international star, Richard Harris, in the title role. The cast included John Hurt, Sean Bean and Brenda Fricker but it was really Harris’ movie.

The renowned Limerick-born actor, a noted hellraiser on the set and off, made the part his own, a role that fitted his persona and personality like a pair of comfortable slippers. Harris gave a bravura performance in the larger-than-life role of Bull McCabe, the patriarchal farmer with a ferocious temperament and blazing charisma.

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