The Field (play)

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The Field
Written by John B. Keane
Characters "Bull" McCabe

Tadgh McCabe
William Dee
Mick Flanagan
Maggie Butler
Date premiered 1965
Place premiered Olympia Theatre, Dublin
Original language English
Setting A small village in southwest Ireland, early 1960s

The Field is a play written by John B. Keane, first performed in 1965. It tells the story of the hardened Irish farmer "Bull" McCabe and his love for the land he rents. The play debuted at Dublin's Olympia Theatre in 1965, with Ray McAnally as "The Bull" and Eamon Keane as "The Bird" O'Donnell. The play was published in 1966 by Mercier Press. A new version with some changes was produced in 1987.

A film adaptation was released in 1990, directed by Jim Sheridan with Richard Harris in the lead role.


The Field is set in a small country village in southwest Ireland.

Rugged individualist Bull McCabe has spent many hard years of labour cultivating a small plot of rented land, nurturing it from barren rock into a fertile field. He has always considered the land his own, and dreams of buying it; now it is being put up for auction. The McCabes intimidate most of the townspeople out of bidding in the auction, to the chagrin of auctioneer Mick Flanagan, but Galwayman William Dee arrives from England, where he has lived for many years, with his own plan for the field. An encounter between Dee and the McCabes ends in death and a cover-up.

John based the story on the 1959 murder of Moss Moore, a bachelor farmer living in Reamore, County Kerry. Dan Foley, a neighbour with whom Moore had a long-running dispute, was suspected of the murder, but the charges were denied by Foley's family.[1]

Film version[edit]

Jim Sheridan directed a film, also entitled The Field. Richard Harris received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal.


  1. ^ Fuil agus Dúch, Broadcast on TG4, 22 Mar 2007 at 10 p.m. GMT.