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John B.

By Mattie Lennon

Photo of John B. Keane


Before you went you told us not to cry.

On that sad night.

"Let the show go on" you said and then "goodbye"

We shouldn't question why you had to die

Before you went you told us not to cry


As Writer's Week had opened,
For its thirty-second year,
Where poet and peasant mingle
To absorb Listowel's good cheer.
A cloud crossed hill and valley
From Carnsore to Malin Head,
As news went 'round our island
"The great John. B. is dead"

(repeat Chorus)

He who walked with King and beggar
Will lift his pen no more,
To bring out the hidden Ireland
Like no one did before.
He banished inhibitions
To put insight in their stead.
The world stage is brighter
But The "Kingdom's King" is dead.

The dialogue of two Bococs
Is known in every town.
Now the Ivy Bridge links Broadway
To the hills of Renagown.
While men of twenty emigrate
And Sharon's Grave is read,
Or a Chastitute 's forlorn
His memory won't be dead.

(repeat Chorus)

They stepped out from the pages
Of The Man From Clare and Sive
To walk behind his coffin
Each character alive.
His Soul, with One-Way Ticket
To The Highest House has sped,
And this world has lost a genius;
The great John. B. is dead.

(repeat Chorus)

©Copyright Mattie Lennon 2002

John B. Keane was Ireland's best known and best loved playwright.

He died on Thursday 30th May 2002, the morning after Writers Week opened in his native town of Listowel.

John B. Had been one of the founders of Writers week and on his deathbed, he called the Chairman of the Writer's Week Committee and told him that should he (John B.) die before, or during, Writers Week that the festival should not be cancelled. Hence the line in the chorus: "Let the show go on " you said, and then "goodbye."

Editor's Note: Mattie mentioned to your editor that whenever he approached John B. for information, when researching anything, he - John B. - was always most helpful. Mattie added, "I was in Listowel when he died and I attended his funeral."

The poem/song commemorating John B. is a fitting tribute to his memory and as such has been put to music by John Hoban whose email is:

Additional info on John B. Keane may be found by clicking his name.
(Images of Keane, courtesy of the forementioned site, and Mattie Lennon.)


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