John B Keane: Father of 16 got a little too hung up on promise he made in the pub

An overworked small farmer was the father of 14 children. He was not a believer in family planning but he honestly felt that he had too many children.

An overworked small farmer was the father of 14 children. He was not a believer in family planning but he honestly felt that he had too many children.

Every Sunday night it was his habit to go to the pub where he would partake of a few pints and engage in trivial gossip with his neighbours and friends.On the night the 15th child arrived he didn’t even celebrate.

Instead he confessed to one of his friends that if there was to be a 16th arrival he would do himself in. His friends advised him against it but he told them he was determined to go ahead.

Time passed and one Sunday night he arrived at the pub and called for a pint of stout. He was very glum-looking and morose. He refused to join in the general conversation.

He was asked by the publican if anything was the matter.

He announced that the 16th child was one its way.

Ever a man of his word, he told all and sundry that he was going to hang himself.

He was somewhat sorry he had made the promise to do himself in but he would not give it to say to the neighbours that he was a man who went back on his word.

Vainly he thought of a way out but he could find no avenue of escape. He bought a few yards of rope and located a suitable tree.

Then he shook hands with his pals, who looked appropriately sad when he tossed the rope across the branch of a tree.

He was about to put the rope around his neck when suddenly he changed his mind.

“What’s the matter?” his pals asked.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he announced. “I might be hanging the wrong man.”

The maid

Some months ago,” writes a Ballybunion reader, who says she is up to her eyes in work, “you had three verses of The Maid of Sweet Coolard in Out in the Open.Would you please oblige and include the other verses.”

Coolard is four miles from the town of Listowel and six from Ballybunion. The song was written be Denis Hennessy of Church Street, Listowel, at the turn of the century. Anyway, here are the verses I omitted last time round:

Adown beside the winding

Gale if you at leisure roam

Not far below you in the vale you’ll see her peaceful home,

And if you there should call and wait to be sure your heart to guard

Against the witching power of Kate, the maid of sweet Coolard

Upon her fair and beauteous form when you enraptured gaze

You’ll say with admiration warm she’s worthy of all praise;

Oh! should it be your lucky fate to win her sweet regard,

God bless the day you met young Kate, the maid of sweet Coolard

I will not disclose the identity of the fair maid in question. She was by all accounts, all Denis Hennessy’s song said she was.

Feale Festival

The now famous Abbeyfeale Festival is due to begin on September 3 and will run until September 12. Once again there will be the election of the Feale Baron.

The present baron, his Excellency Peter O’Connor, Lord of Tour and surrounds, will be relinquishing his title and it is hard to know where the crown will go.

There will be competitors from Tournafulla, Carraigkerry, Athea, Moyvane and elsewhere, and it is expected that the finish will be very close, indeed.

One night last week I met the Tournafulla candidate. His name is Maurice O’Gorman – Mossie to his friends – and he hails from the village of Tournafulla itself.

He was chosen out of four nominees at the recent carnival of Tournafulla and in his own locality he is loved by one and all, being a great employer and never known to turn down a willing man for a job.

He is aged 38 and is a Catholic. He is married to a daughter of the famous Private Ahern, one of the most respected gentlemen in all of West Limerick.

If elected, Mossie Gorman will give his salary to the poor.

“If necessary,” he said, “I will go and fight for the unity of Ireland.”

Mossie, who is a civil engineering contractor, is also a fine singer and will be heard to advantage when the men of Tournafulla mount the platform in Abbeyfeale on Friday night, September 3.

It should be a night to remember and with such red-hot opposition right on their heels the Tournafulla contingent will have to be very good indeed.

The reign of former Baron, the great Peter O’Connor, is drawing to a close, and it will be remembered by all as the golden age of happiness and enjoyment.

“Even the hens,” said a Tour woman, “laid more than ever during Peter’s time as Baron.”

“I realise,” said Mossie O’Gorman, “that I have giant boots to fill but I have learned a lot from Baron Peter and, please God, I will stand as good a chance as any.”

Can Tour keep the title? That’s a question which cannot be answered until September 12.

Meanwhile, let me echo the sentiments of Mossie O’Gorman by saying let the best man win.

An ill-wind

Kerry’s defeat in the Munster senior football final is a great blessing in one sense.

Whenever Kerry are defeated at such an early stage it means that Listowel Races will break all records because the money that would be spent on long weekends in Dublin will now be spent in Listowel. This is a well-known fact so it’s an ill-wind that doesn’t blow some good.

There are no sea trout to be hand in the Feale River around Listowel or indeed further up the river.

Local anglers believe this is because the trout are being persuaded by kindly reception committees, to hang around down further.

It would seem as if this is true because always at this time of year, provided there is good water, sea trout were to be had easily enough.

Not one is being taken despite the fact that the water had been and is perfect for all kinds of fishing from worm to fly.