Read The Field Online

Authors: John B. Keane

Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Drama, #English, #Irish, #Scottish, #Welsh, #Kerry, #Man from Clare, #Many Young Men of Twenty, #Durango, #Brian Dennehy, #The Field, #Sive, #Moll, #Big Maggie, #Richard Harris, #John B. Keane, #Keane, #High Meadow, #Bull McCabe, #Listowel, #Chastitute

The Field

About John B. Keane

John B. Keane 
was one of Ireland's most humorous authors and is still recognised as one of Ireland's greatest playwrights. He wrote many best-sellers, including
Letters of a Successful TD, Letters of an Irish Parish Priest, Letters of an Irish Publican, Letters of a Matchmaker, Letters of a Love-Hungry Farmer, The Gentle Art of Matchmaking, Irish Short Stories, More Irish Short Stories, The Bodhrán Makers
and
Man of the Triple Name
. His plays include
The Year of the Hiker, Big Maggie, Sive, Sharon's Grave,
Many Young Men of Twenty, The Man from Clare, Moll, The Change in Mame Fadden, Values, The Crazy Wall
and
The Buds of Ballybunion.

For more information visit

http://www.mercierpress.ie/johnbkeane

http://johnbkeane.ie/

Revised Text

edited by

Ben Barnes

A Play in Two Acts

MERCIER PRESS

3B Oak House, Bessboro Rd

Blackrock, Cork, Ireland.

www.mercierpress.ie

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© John B. Keane, 1991

ISBN: 978 0 85342 976 0

Epub ISBN: 978 1 85635 988 7

Mobi ISBN: 978 1 85635 989 4

The Field
is a copyright play and may not be performed without a licence. Application for a licence for amateur performances must be made in advance to Mercier Press Ltd, Unit 3b, Oak House, Bessboro Road, Blackrock, Cork. Terms for professional performances may be had from JBK Occasions, 37 William Street, Listowel, Co. Kerry.

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

This edited two act version of
The Field
was first presented in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, on Monday 9 February 1987.

Leamy Flanagan:
Darragh Kelly

Bird O'Donnell:
Dónall Farmer

Mick Flanagan:
John Olohan

Mrs Butler:
Áine Ní Mhuirí

Maimie Flanagan:
Catherine Byrne

Bull McCabe:
Niall Tóibín

Tadhg
McCabe:
Brendan Conroy

Sergeant Leahy:
Niall O'Brien

William Dee:
Macdara Ó Fátharta

Dandy
McCabe:
Eamon Kelly

Mrs
McCabe:
Maura O'Sullivan

Fr Murphy:
Des Nealon

The Flanagan Children:
Aoife Conroy, Neilí Conroy, Ruaidhrí Conroy, Tom Lawlor, Kerry-Ellen Lawlor

Village Girls:
Aisling Tóibín, Siobhán Maguire

The Bishop's Voice:
Des Cave

Director:
Ben Barnes

Designer:
Tim Reed

Lighting Designer:
Rupert Murray

Music:
Ronan Guilfoyle

The Field was first produced by Gemini Productions at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, on 1 November 1965.

ACT ONE
Scene 1

[Action takes place in the bar of a public house in Carraigthomond, a small village in the south-west of Ireland.

Leamy Flanagan is playing pitch and toss with his younger brothers and sisters. Enter the Bird O'Donnell]

Bird:
Give us a half of whiskey for God's sake, Leamy, to know would anything put a bit of heat in me. Leamy, do you hear me talking to you?

Leamy:
'Tis freezing!

Bird:
'Tis weather for snowmen and Eskimos. Where's your father? This place is getting more like Las Vegas with all the gambling going on.

Leamy:
He's gone down to O'Connor's for the paper … That'll be half-a-dollar.

Bird:
Take your time, will you? Why aren't ye all at school?

Leamy:
Still on our Easter holidays. How's trade?

Bird:
Same as always … lousy!

[Enter
Mick Flanagan
scattering the children]

Mick:
Go upstairs, your dinner is ready.
[To
Leamy
]
I thought I told you to sweep out the shop!

Leamy:
It's nearly finished.

Mick:
You've been long enough about it. Right Nellie, up to Muddy. Good morning, Bird.

Bird:
Good morning, Mick.

Mick:
Did you clean out the store?

Leamy:
I've done the half of it.

Mick:
The half of it! – I told you to do the whole of it.

Leamy:
I had to look after the kids while my mother was feeding the baby.

Mick:
'Tis too fond you are of hanging about with women and children. 'Tis a daughter you should have been not a son.
[Discovering another child]
And what are you doing hiding under the table, you little divil?
[To Leamy]
Go and ask your mother will the dinner be ready soon.

Leamy:
Yes, Da.

Mick:
And finish off that store or you'll hear all about it from me.

Leamy:
Yes, Da.

[Exit Leamy, Bird whistles]

Mick:
In the name of goodness, will you cut out that bloody whistling! One would swear you were a canary.

[The whistler, whose name is ‘Bird' O'Donnell, looks at Mick in surprise]

Bird:
[Throwing rings at a ring-board]
I thought you liked whistling?

Mick:
Whistling, yes. I like whistling. But that bloody noise you're making isn't whistling.

[Laughter from girls. Bird comes to the counter. He has thrown two rings and leaves the other four on the counter]

Mick:
C'mon girls, upstairs.

Bird:
Give me another half-one. It might improve my pipes.

Mick:
Have you the price of it?

[Bird draws some change from his pocket and places it on the counter]

Mick:
[Counts money first, fills whiskey]
Who did you take down now?

Bird:
Take down! That's illegal, that is! I could get you put in jail for that. A pity I hadn't a witness. 'Twould pay me better than calf-buying.

[Mick places whiskey on counter and takes price of it which he deposits in cash register. Bird scoops up the rest of the money]

Mick:
There must be great money in calf-buying.

Bird:
Not as much as there is in auctioneering.

Mick:
[Goes to the stove, to poke and put fuel in it]
Very funny! Very funny! Don't forget I have to use my head all the time.

Bird:
[Leftish along counter]
Not half as much as I do. Did you ever try to take down a small farmer?

[Bird sits in angle of bar watching what is going on. Enter a small dumpy woman wearing a black-coloured coat. She is piled with parcels. She is Maggie Butler, a widow]

Bird:
Good morning, ma'am.

Mick:
Good morning, ma'am. Ah! Is it Mrs Butler? I didn't see you with a dog's age.

Maggie:
Good morning to you, Mr Flanagan. I'm afraid I don't be in the village very often.

Mick:
What will I get for you?

Maggie:
[Laughs at the idea]
'Tisn't drink I'm looking for, Mr Flanagan. 'Tis other business entirely that brought me. I've been thinking of payin' you a call for some time.

Mick:
You wouldn't be selling property now, by any chance? The bit of land or the house or maybe both?

Maggie:
No, not the house! Lord save us, do you want me on the side of the road or stuck in a room in some back lane in Carraigthomond? 'Tis the field I came to see you about. I'm a poor widow woman and I want the best price I can get. They say you're an honest man to get the last half-penny for a person.

Mick:
[Suddenly expansive, comes from behind the counter]
Sit down here, Maggie girl. I can guarantee you, you won't be wronged in this house. You came to the right spot. Am I right, Bird?

Bird:
No better man. As straight as a telephone pole.

Mick:
I suppose you know the Bird O'Donnell?

Maggie:
Only to see. How do you do, sir.

Mick:
How would you like a little drop of something before we get down to business? Something to put a stir in the heart.

Maggie:
Oh, Lord save us, no! I never touches it! Since the day my poor husband died, I never put a drop of drink to my lips. We used often take a bottle of stout together.
[Sadly]
But that was once upon a time. The Lord have mercy on the dead.

Mick & Bird:
The Lord have mercy on the dead!

Mick:
'Tis easy to see you're a moral woman. 'Twould be a brighter world if there were more like you.

Bird:
That's true, God knows.
[He picks up rings and returns to throwing position]

Mick:
[To Bird]
'Tis nothing these days but young married women guzzling gin and up till all hours playing bingo or jingo or whatever they call it.
[To Maggie]
You're a fine moral woman, ma'am. There's no one can deny that.

[Mick goes behind the counter and locates a large pad. He extracts spectacles from convenient case and rejoins Maggie at the table. His manner is now more efficient and business-like]

Mick:
What kind of property do you wish to sell, Missus?

Maggie:
'Tis the four-acre field; the one you mentioned.

Mick:
There's a great demand for land these days. The country is full of upstarts, on the make for grazing. No shortage of buyers.
[Goes behind counter and pours himself a drink. Puts jotter on counter]
Now ma'am, your full name and address.
[He readies his jotter and pencil]

Maggie:
Maggie Butler.

Mick:
[Writes laboriously]
Mrs Margaret Butler. And the address?

Maggie:
Inchabawn, Carraigthomond.

Mick:
[Writing]
Inchabawn, Carraigthomond. I know that field well. The one over the river.

Maggie:
That's the one … the only one.

[Bird is now watching]

Mick:
A handsome parcel of land. Fine inchy grazing and dry as a carpet. How do you hold it?

Maggie:
What?

Mick:
Your title? I mean, where's your title?

[Mick comes from behind counter, glancing at Bird as he passes. Sits right of Maggie]

Mick:
[Kindly]
In other words, who gave you the right to sell it?

Maggie:
'Twas willed to me by my husband five years ago. 'Twas purchased under the Land Act by my husband's father, Patsy Butler. He willed it to my husband and my husband willed it to me. I'm the registered owner of the field.

Mick:
That's fair enough for anything.

Bird:
[Closing in a bit]
I know that field. You let the grazing to the Bull McCabe.

Maggie:
That's right. He has the grazing but only till the end of the month.

Mick:
I fancy the Bull won't want to see it bought by an outsider. 'Tis bordering his own land.

[Look between Bird and Mick. Bird goes back to throw last ring or two]

Mick:
And proper order, too. Well now, the acreage?

Maggie:
Three acres one rood and thirty-two perches, bordering the river, with a passage to water and a passage to the main Carraigthomond road. 'Tis well fenced and there's a concrete stall in one corner near the river. There's two five-bar gates … and there's its folio … 668420.

[Bird finishes throwing rings, goes and gathers them together and hangs them on board. Then back to bar for rest of his drink]

Mick:
And the valuation?

Maggie:
Three pounds ten shillings, Poor Law.

Mick:
Under fee simple, I take it?

Maggie:
Fee simple.

Mick:
Who's the solicitor, ma'am?

Maggie:
Alfie Nesbitt.

Mick:
No better man!

Bird:
[Who had been whistling sotto voce]
The Bull McCabe won't like this!

Mick:
You're telling me!

Maggie:
Mr Flanagan, the highest bidder will get the field.

Mick:
Oh that you may be sure. But the Bull is sure to be the highest bidder. He needs that field. Well, Mrs Butler … Maggie … I'll stick a notice in the paper this evening and I'll have thirty-six bills printed and ready the day after tomorrow.

Maggie:
[Gathering herself together and rising]
May God bless you, Mr Flanagan.

Mick:
It's my job, ma'am, it's my job. I suppose you'll have a reserve?

Maggie:
You'll put a reserve of £800 on it, Mr Flanagan.

Mick:
That's more than £200 an acre!

Maggie:
It's worth every penny of it. It's good land and it's well situated.

Mick:
True for you! True for you! You'll get the last brown copper for it. I'll make sure of that.

Maggie:
'Tis all I have apart from my widow's pension and I can't live on that. God will reward you if you get a good price for me.
[She rises]
Is there money going to you?

Mick:
No! No! That will come from the purchaser. Let me see then, we'll make it the fifth of April.

Maggie:
The fifth of April, please God. I'll see you then.

Mick:
Please God is right and God is good, ma'am. God is good.

[Mick sees her to the door]

Maggie:
My husband always said you were an honest man, that I was to come to you if I was ever forced to sell. The Lord have mercy on him, he was a good honest man.

Mick:
He was, to be sure. A good kindly innocent man.

Maggie:
Good-day to you now.

Mick:
Good-day to you, ma'am.

[Exit Maggie Butler]

Bird:
You've a nice tricky job facing you now.

Mick:
Don't I know it, but business is business, Bird, and business comes first with me.

Bird:
The Bull McCabe won't like it.

Mick:
What the Bull likes and don't like is nothing to me. I have my job to do.

[Enter Maimie, Mick's wife, who has come downstairs]

Maimie:
Bird.

Bird:
Maimie.

Maimie:
You're dinner is ready.

Mick:
Good. I'll go right up. Will you type out a couple of copies of this for me?

[He hands her pages from jotter]

Maimie:
How many do you want?

Mick:
Make it three. Three should do. The Bird will carry one up to the printers when you're done.

Maimie:
Don't be too long … I'll be going to the hairdressers when you come down.

Mick:
Oh! What's on?

[Mick stops]

Maimie:
[Goes for typewriter behind bar]
Nothing's on, only that it's six weeks since I had my hair done.

Mick:
Why didn't you go and get it done before this? I don't like rushing my dinner. No one ever stopped you from getting your hair done.

Maimie:
No one … only nine kids.
[Mick glowers]
The baby's asleep, so you needn't turn on the wireless. If he wakes, that's the end of my hair-do.

Mick:
Cripes Almighty, woman, I want to hear the news.

Maimie:
Well, you can miss the news for one day.

Mick:
[Turns again]
What's for dinner?

Maimie:
Corned beef and cabbage.

Mick:
Again?

Maimie:
What do you expect – turkey and ham?

Mick:
No, but God damn it, if I ate any more cabbage I'll have to put up a second lavatory.

[Exit Mick]

Maimie:
[Bringing typewriter to table and settling up to type – sitting]
No matter what you do, they aren't happy. What's for dinner, he asks. Ask him in the morning what he'd like for dinner and he'll tell you 'tis too soon after his breakfast.

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