The love-hun­gry farmer has a time­less ap­peal

Irish Independent - Farming - - PHOTO DIARY -

THE words “love” and “ro­mance” are not nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with the typ­i­cal Ir­ish farmer, but Des Keogh’s per­for­mance of John B Keane’s The Love Hun­gry Farmer proves oth­er­wise.

The play, which was adapted by the well­known the­atre ac­tor in the early 2000s, is a one­man show which tells the story of the bach­e­lor farmer, John Bosco McLane, who is des­per­ate to find love and com­pan­ion­ship.

“He’s a lonely, bach­e­lor farmer that lives in the hills and his aim is to find a wo­man suit­able to marry,” says Des.

“He con­sults the match­maker who puts him on dates, but of course he gets him­self in var­i­ous dif­fer­ent predica­ments and I can’t tell you if he finds love or not.”

Fol­low­ing his per­for­mance of the The Match­maker, along­side the late Anna Mana­han in the early 2000s, Des dis­cov­ered John B Keane’s story Let­ters of a Love-Hun­gry Farmer and asked Keane’s per­mis­sion to turn it in to a one-man play.

“I just thought it had great ma­te­rial for a one-man show. So I wrote to John B and he was de­lighted,” he says.

“I per­formed it in New York in 2003 and it got such a great re­cep­tion... and it wasn’t just an Ir­ish au­di­ence. It had a uni­ver­sal ap­peal.”

Des adds that the let­ters are fic­tional char­ac­ters in­vented by Keane, but are based on peo­ple he would’ve come in to con­tact with in his pub in Lis­towel, Co Kerry.

Des thinks the play’s mix of hu­mour and abil­ity to draw em­pa­thy from the au­di­ence for the plight of the main char­ac­ter has been the se­cret be­hind its longevity.

“It is with­out a doubt a com­edy, but the au­di­ence do feel for John Bosco as he’s not do­ing that well. He’s lonely,” he says.

“There are so many lonely farm­ers out there. We all know them and there’s aw­ful in­ci­dents of peo­ple be­ing at­tacked in their homes. Peo­ple can re­late to it. John B was just so ahead of his time and uni­ver­sal.”

Al­though he’s orig­i­nally from the ru­ral mar­ket town of Birr, Co Of­faly, Des has been liv­ing in Dublin for many years but ad­mits that he would’ve come into con­tact with peo­ple like John Bosco on hol­i­days in Con­nemara.

“Not so much in my youth would I have come across char­ac­ters like John Bosco but when­ever I go to Con­nemara, I would meet peo­ple like him,” he says. “It’s still a very rel­e­vant story and al­though it at­tracts more of an older au­di­ence rather than teenagers and 20-year-olds, it is nev­er­the­less a time­less story worth telling. I owe it a lot.”

The Love Hun­gry Farmer is on in Every­man Cork tonight and to­mor­row and in Vik­ing The­atre and Dol­men The­atre, Dublin later this month.

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