60 Years On at John B’s on William Street

Anytime I ever met the late Dr. John B Keane on the streets of Listowel – or anywhere else – he always had a few words of encouragement for my pursuit of this way-of-life. Always too, he’d call me ‘The Moonlighter’ – maybe it was because he couldn’t remember my name. Much like the way ‘The Captain’ Jerh Sugrue labelled those he met with ‘Hello Cap’ or ‘Cailín Álainn’ for the fairer sex.

I spent a few years working from The Kerryman office on the Chute’s Corner side of John B’s world famous pub and I often called in on mornings on my travels around the town.

Sadly, John B had passed on before The Kerryman crew moved in to the town. But my memories of his wife, Mary and her love of Castleisland will always remain with me. Mary served her time as a hairdresser to Mrs. Pat Hannon and she was a lovely woman to work for – according to Mary.

On quiet days, in the spacious salon the boss and staff members played Badminton – Mary told me once.

That Mary Keane had a team of regular, non-drinking callers to the William Street pub in the mornings and that there were cups of tea put down in front of them reveals its own insights into the woman.

She always asked about people here and with genuine affection would say: “A great town.”

Yesterday, January 17th, Mary and the Keane family and their friends celebrated the 60th anniversary of the opening of the pub and I would imagine that a great time was had by all. I photographed Mary in the pub when it marked its 55th in 2010.

In advance of the big day on Saturday, Billy Keane wrote as honest and soul-bearing and account of life at No.37 as you’re ever going to encounter this side of fiction. I’ve taken an extract from it here and if you’d like to read the full article – and may I suggest that you do – there’s a link to it at the end of the extract.

Good luck to all the Keane’s and to John B’s Bar on William Street and all who rest their elbows on its historic counter.

And a special wish to Mary for good health and happiness and many more anniversaries from all here in the town she loves so well.

“Dad used to sit up at the counter after working a long shift pulling pints and write plays that are now acclaimed as masterpieces. Then when he just couldn’t handle it all, my mother pushed him outside the counter and he became a full-time writer while she ran the pub. I took over 22 years ago after a succession of self- inflicted disasters but I’m over that. You move on.

If any of you are in trouble right now, please believe me when I say there is a way and you will find that way. Just believe, stay positive and the door will open for you.

My mother still works away in the pub and my wife, Elaine, still carries the load in our home up the road while I’m working nights. Two mighty women from farms know all about hard work.” – Billy Keane.     Click here for the entire article: https://www.facebook.com/JohnBKeane?fref=ts