The love-hungry farmer has a timeless appeal
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.