John B. Keane
|Born||John Brendan Keane|
21 July 1928
Church Street, Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland
|Died||30 May 2002 (aged 73)|
Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland
|Education||St Michael's College, Listowel|
|Notable works||The Field, Sive|
|Notable awards||Honorary Life Member of the Royal Dublin Society|
A son of a national school teacher, William B. Keane, and his wife Hannah (née Purtill), Keane was educated at Listowel National School and then at St Michael's College, Listowel. He worked as a chemist's assistant for A.H. Jones who dabbled in buying antiques. Keane had various jobs in the UK between 1951 and 1955 working as a street cleaner, and a bar man, living in a variety of places including Northampton and London. It was while he was in Northampton that Keane was first published in an unnamed women's magazine for which he received £15.
After returning from the United Kingdom, he was a pub owner in Listowel from 1955.
He married Mary O'Connor at Knocknagoshel Church on 5 January 1955 and had four children: Billy, Conor, John and Joanna. He was an Honorary Life Member of the Royal Dublin Society from 1991, served as president of Irish PEN and was a founder member of the Society of Irish Playwrights as well as a member of Aosdána. Keane was named the patron of the Listowel Players after the Listowel Drama Group fractured. He remained a prominent member of the Fine Gael party throughout his life, never being shy of political debate.
Keane cited many literary influences including Bryan MacMahon and George Fitzmaurice, fellow Kerry writers and playwrights.
His personal influences were numerous but, most notably he thanked his father and his wife, Mary. Keane was grateful for his father's help with early editing, allowed him access to his personal library, and encouraged him to continue his work until he was successful.
He was also influenced by the local population and the patrons of his pub, on whom he based some of his characters.
Then produced a slim envelope from a pocket of her apron and handed it to me. It was from a women's magazine- and Holy God!--it contained a cheque for fifteen pounds.
On January 5th of 1955, Mary and I were married in Knocknagoshel Church.
The new group call themselves The Listowel Players and I am their patron.
It is easy to say whom it is I owe my success as a writer: to my wife for her constant help, but most of all to my father, --God rest him--because it was he who encouraged me from beginning to end, who edited my early work and gave me the freedom of a fine library, who promised me that if I persevered I would emerge one day as a writer.