A PROMINENT member of the Hippie organisation spent a considerable amount of time in Listowel last week. He devoted the greater part of his visit towards inspection of the surrounding countryside, spent some time in Ballybunion, Beale and Littor and surveyed the hill of Knockanure before journeying southwards to see what the rest of the country had to offer.
He was a quiet spoken and well-dressed young man, obviously well-educated but one could see that his financial resources were limited.
In reply to my questions he said he did not like work and would not do any unless faced with being starved to death.
“Don’t tell anybody who I am,” he begged, “or don’t tell them what my business is. Nobody is supposed to know what I am doing except my superiors.”
He admitted he was on the look-out for a suitable lazing ground for himself and a large number of other Hippies.
He told me he liked the Listowel area and that he was greatly taken with the friendliness of the people but he doubted if it would be suitable.
One thing he found it difficult to understand was the lack of hospitality he found. He was apparently, foolishly led to believe that the Irish and especially the Kerry people were extremely hospitable.
“Not once,” he said, “was I offered a free meal or a bed for the night.”
I was quick to point out to him that he had been bought several drinks by men who had never seen him before. He admitted this but argued that a man cannot live on drink alone.
“I was under the impression,” he pointed out, “that when people realised I was English they would ask me into their homes and treat me like one of the family. I expected that I would be given a bed or something to eat. I did not expect free drink as I feel I would be asking too much.”
After spending three days in the town he departed. One thing in his favour was his good manners.
The following is genuine. A woman, aged 43, living in West Limerick, is most interested in settling down. She is a widow woman with her own cottage, but she feels the nights are too lonely and is most anxious to marry again. If there is an interested party reading this, I will give him the woman’s name and address and he may call whenever he chooses. He will be quite welcome.
The late Padden Woulfe was a well-known all over West Limerick as he was in Ballyhahill. One day a neighbour came to him for advice and spent a long time explaining his case. When he had finished he said to Padden:
“What would you do now if you were in my shoes?”
“If I didn’t half sole them,” said Paddy, “I’d buy a new pair.”
Another day a stranger called and asked for directions.
“Where would this road take me to?” he asked Padden. “There’s a friend of mine gone on ahead of you,” said Padden, “and ‘tis taking him to America.”
Last week I wrote about the record number of visitors to Listowel’s October horse fair and of the fact that the number of horses, instead of growing smaller, had grown greater. At the time of writing I could not understand the reason for this, but since that time I have been enlightened by a Clareman who came back on the ferry searching for a three-year-old ass who, he maintains, is of great sentimental value.
According to my Clare friend, the increase in the number of horses is due to the fact that well over a hundred came over on the ferry from Clare. Many of these came from the Spancil Hill area, while many more came from around Kilrush. There was also a large volume of people on the Shannon Heather that morning.
So it is the ferry that accounts for the increase. Anyway, the Clareman’s ass is still missing. I sympathised with him on his loss. “It don’t matter,” he said, “the bit of travel done me good.”
John Bourke, the Grange poet, is never without a good story. There was this farmer who lived near Meanus during the first world war. The man was terrified that the Germans would land so he was forever beseeching all the young men of the neighbourhood to go to the front to fight them. One day a travelling man came to the door hoping to get a bite of dinner. He knocked and got no answer so he went to the back. He knocked again and he got no answer. After a while, the farmer arrived on the scene.
“I know,” said the travelling man, “but I knocked and got no answer so I came to the back.”