Tipperary hurling legend stars in iconic Irish drama by Dylan White

Tipperary hurling icon John Leahy was amongst the stars of a recent Clonmel history making production of John B. Keane’s ‘The Field’.

Clonmel Theatre Guild brought the curtains down on the masterly crafted play to rapturous applause at a packed White Memorial Theatre on Friday night (May 19).

Predominantly set in auctioneer Mick Flanagan’s (John Leahy) pub, the Guild recreated the work of art, fusing timeless humour with raw emotion. Kevin Fahey was mischievously sublime as stage Irish fool “The Bird” O’Donnell, whimsical in demeanour and execution. Plamasing careworn Maimie Flanagan, played by an endearing Catherine O’Donnell, Bird wormed his way to free whiskeys with his “finest looking woman in the village” fiction.

The stage-shattering arrival of Ger Meagher’s Thady “The Bull” McCabe, imposing in exterior with shot-gun like repudiation at the field he has nurtured been put up for public auction, trawled Clonmel theatregoers to the edge of their seats. “Who gave you the right to call me Bull?”, a stern Bull blasted at Bird upon entering the pub, before Meagher wields his charisma to tickle the senses with his “nothing like a bull to move a heifer” retort in the hunt for Mick Flanagan. Meagher’s comportment reinforces Bull’s dressing room influence over Carraigthomond through his omission that “half the village is related to me and the other half my wife”. The lure of Meagher’s almighty Bull became ever more profound, mocking that Sergeant Leahy’s (Jim Malone) “brains are in the arse of his trousers”, while Bull’s dutiful son Tadhg (played by an exuberant John Morris) shadows his father’s every encounter.

Paul Kelly (Danny McCabe) and Majella Carrigan (Mrs. Cabe) were buoyant but obedient, with Bull bolting their song and dance when it came to the fearsome battle for the much sought after field.

John Leahy’s centre stage role in the public auction was genius. His calmness combined with Mick Flanagan’s calculated calamity in remarkable fashion, and he wouldn’t look out of place on a grander stage afar as the businessman.

Carol Acheson (Widow Butler), Jim Malone (Sergeant Leahy), Desmond Cunningham (Fr. Murphy) and Tom Callery (The Bishop) transcended the local gathering into southwestern Ireland in the 1960s with their composure and experience.

Trysten Afrin (Leamy Flanagan) and Caolan Deehy-Power (William Dee) juxtaposed their compatriots, acquainting us with more modern day personas.
The Flanagan children – Leah Alyward, Brianna Boyle and Tara Malone – created joyfulness, while Adele Armstrong and Holly Jean Williamson brought elegance to the spectacle.

Clonmel Theatre Guild’s Carol Acheson thanked the cast and crew for their hard work and all those who supported The Field over its four night stretch, before presenting director Anne Williamson with a bouquet of flowers as a token of gratitude for all her hard work.

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