John B Keane: The pig who got over his loneliness and grew content

Monster pig

Monster pig

SOME years ago, a pig, weighing four hundred weight, was sold to a farmer from Tooreendonaill at the market in Listowel. This was shortly before the market was converted to the present modern cattle mart. I have seen a photograph of the pig in the company of other normally-sized pigs, and it would be fair to say that he towers over his fellows like an elephant.

The pig was owned by that well known pig-breeder, Tommeen Doyle, who lives just outside Listowel.However, there is quite a history attached to the animal in question. They say there is a iochtar in every litter, but in this particular litter, which threw up the monster, there were two iochtars.

Anyhow, the were rared by Mr Doyle, and after four months of good feeding the pigs were tall and shapely and distinguishable looking, but they were as thin as hairpins and looked more like half-starved greyhounds than pigs.

Tommeen Doyle was in a proper pucker, so he consulted a friend of his who was an authority on pigs, a Mr Considine, and he was told by Considine that the only solution was to install a gramaphone in the house next to the sty and to play records of sweer, soft music, as it was the opinion of the expert that the pigs were nervous.

Tommeen did as he was told, and after a month or so the pigs began to put on weight. Tommeen then decided to kill one. The execution took place without more ado, but as soon as the first pig was out of sight the second began to pine, and after a week he was back to her former state of malassimalation.

New records were bought for the gramaphone, but the pig’s decline continued, until he was no more than a skeleton. He was hardly able to stand, and despite the fact that he was given the tastiest of pig food, he showed no improvement. A second visit to Mr Considine was necessitated. He listened carefully, nodding his head now and again. Finally, he presented his diagnosis.

“The pig,” said he, “is lonely.” He suggested to Tommeen Doyle that he should place a mirror in the sty so that whenever the surviving pig looked into it he would imagine the reflection to that of his long lost brother. Mr Considine’s instructions were carried out. The gramaphone was wound and turned on. At once the pig grunted happily. He lay down and sat contentedly looking in the mirror.

As the days passed he grew so fat he was hardly able to stand. He took to eating the floor of the sty, so it was decided to sell him. He was sold to a Mr Garrett Barrett of Toureendonaill on the sixteenth of March, 1954.

The price paid was thirty-six pounds, fifteen shillings and a crown luck, and the weight was four hundred weight, less one quarter.

Shopping around

A MAN approaced me on the street the other day and asked me if I was aware of the fact that Listowel people did more of their shopping in Tralee and Limerick than in Listowel. I pointed out that it is because the items they might buy were not available in Listowel.

“Oh no,” he said, “they buy groceries, meat, clothes and everything that could be bought just as easily in Listowel.” That night I put the question to a few people, shopkeepers among them. All agreed that Listowel people were inclined to shop away from home.

“Hard to blame them,” said one gentleman, “when some of the shopkeepers themselves won’t buy their needs in Listowel.”

Lovely Louis

LOUIS HEAPHY, who first came into the public view in these columns some weeks ago for the excellent reason that he is the kindliest process server ever to land a summons in the lap of a layman, is much more popular and better known than I thought.

I was under the impression that he was liked by only those who were in receipt of his summonses, but his popularity far succeeds these limitations. Speaking to a well-known Listowel solicitor last week I was surprised to hear him refer to Ballylongford-born Louis as Lovely Louis.

“I was delighted,” said he, “with what you wrote about Lovely Louis.” I thanked him, and he went on to tell me that there was never a process server like Louis.

“Hail, rain or shine,” said the lawman, “he always has a smile. I sincerely wish that there were many more like him, for he has the knack of knocking the nastiness out of the law.”

A well-deserved comp-liment if ever there was one. More luck to Louis Heaphy and to any man who can leaven the legal loaves of life with a laugh and a smile.

Groaning bachelors

TALKING to Willie Finucane of the Lotts lately, he assures me that the situation in regard to bachelors is still the same, but, if anything, a trifle worse because many of Willie’s friends from Knockanure to Athea and on into the noble town of Abbeyfeale are still turning sleeplessly in their cold and lonely beds for the want of wives.

“Their groans,” said Willie, “can be heard at all hours of the night.”

“What do you mean by groan?” I asked him.

“Well,” said Willie, “it’s not easy to describe. It’s something like a cross between the whimper of a sheepdog and the allugoning of a banshee, only its a thousand times as lonesome. You would want to hear it for yourself, although it’s so frightening I wouldnt want a child to hear it.

“Come with me some night,” Willie went on, “when the rest of the world is asleep you will hear the moans and groans being carried on the wind up the slopes of Knockathea, and other times down the Gale River as far as the Wooden Bridge.”

“Is there no cure at all for it?” I asked.

“No,” said Willie, “definitely not, except alone the company of a woman. Tis a cry,” Willie went on, “as old as time. Twas heard by our grandfathers before us and their grandfathers before them, but never before in the history of mankind was it as bad as it is now, particularly in the regions of Athea.”

I shook my head in sympathy. “They’re so bad now,” said Willie, “that they’d marry mermaids, and I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say that Mermaids have no navels.”

“Mermaids have no navels,” said I.

“In spite of that,” said Willie, “these men would still marry them.”

Feale Baron

JIM DENNISON of the Feale Festival Committee, which has its headquarters in Abbeyfeale, tells me that the first nomination night for candidates for the new Feale Baron will be during the carnival in Moyvane in the month of May.

The Feale Baron was one of the best and most truly worthwhile ideas to enliven and enrich rural Ireland in years and years.

If this year’s investiture is half as good it will still be a great occasion.