John B Keane: Are love potions the answer to our slew of bachelors?

There are some who will disagree, but unfortunately the facts speak for themselves. Where the district is out of the way the number of closed or decaying houses is high, where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find building space near towns and villages.

There are some who will disagree, but unfortunately the facts speak for themselves. Where the district is out of the way the number of closed or decaying houses is high, where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find building space near towns and villages.

What I am trying to spell out is this: Instead of decreasing, the number of bachelors in hinterland regions will increase, and where the number of bachelors increases the population must logically decrease and eventually fade away altogether.

There is no remedy that I know of. The girls are just not available to the prime rural bachelors. Nearly all of those who pulled out and went to England succeeded in getting married over there. On very rare occasions an old one has come back with a wife, always an Irish girl.

They cannot find women at home for the good reason that the women are not there. There are more North Kerry and West Limerick girls in London, Manchester and Coventry than would fill the combined dancehalls of Ballybunion. Yes. There are thousands of them

Lately, however, employment is available to these girls in Irish towns and cities, but as far as the rural bachelor is concerned it makes no difference because, having tasted town or city life, the vast majority of girls tend to settle there.

I am saying all this because I believe matchmaking for the advancing bachelor in rural areas is a complete waste of time. Anybody who has attempted to start an agency or bureau has discovered that there is an overwhelming preponderance of male applicants. Sometimes there are no female applicants.

What can be done to halt the disappearance of human beings from the quiet countryside?

Personally, I don’t know, but it is something that must soon be taken up at the highest level. It’s gone from a joke and I am afraid it’s far too late in the day for a remedy.


WHILE WE are on the subject of bachelors, let me quote from a letter which has been in my possession for some time now. It is from a woman in Ballylanders, whose name and address I have but am not at liberty to disclose.

I have been between two minds for some time as to whether or not I should quote from this letter. Here goes:

“Dear Mr Keane; You have been writing about the bachelor problem for years and you are farther away from a solution than ever you were. All the time I have the answer but I must implore you not to mention my name, as I would be in danger of being tarred and feathered.

“Have you heard of Coaxiorium? I think, indeed, you have often mentioned it in a light vein. Well, Mr. Keane, I have the formula for making Coaxiorium and it is a genuine formula. I tried it myself and got a man no bother.

“I could have got any man I wanted. I picked up an easygoing fellow and we are very happy. Most women and most men are cagey about Coaxiorium and I am sure, would not take it if it was offered to them. The thing to do is to administer it without their knowing it. What a boon it would be to your musty old bachelors.

Imagine they could have the prettiest girl in the parish if only they could dose her with the Coaxy.

“The best way to give a dose of Coaxiorium is the following: Write the person of your choice a letter enclosing for a reply. Before enclosing the stamped envelope remove the gum from the flap and replace it with Coaxiorium. The moment he or she licks the flap to seal it in reply they are at once dosed with the Coaxiorium.

“I have it, but the price I am asking might be out of reach. So you see Mr Keane, there is a solution and it is Coaxiorium. Please print this and let me know if you have any response or interest, but no mention of my name and let me know privately, please.”

The name and address are supplied, but I have no notion of acting as an agent for Coaxiorium. There are people who believe in the powers of Coaxiorium. Indeed, the idea of the love potion has been floating around for thousands of years and is mentioned in song and story.

Some claim that these potions such as the Coaxiorium mentioned by my correspondent are effective. Others scoff at the idea. Another name for Coaxiorium is Blatherum Barum and rumour had it that it used to be sold in certain chemists’ shops up until the ‘twenties’ of this century.

Then somebody got severe colic from an overdose of it and it was withdrawn from the market. At least that is what I was told.

I also remember a black man who used to come to Listowel Races until a few years ago and who claimed he was a doctor. he used to sell pills which were reputed to have the power of Coaxiorium.

There was a country girl who used to work for an uncle of mine madly in love with a boy who worked for a farmer. He had curly red hair and dimples and had broken the hearts of hundreds. Anyway, she bought the pills and invited him in for a mug of tea when the uncle was out. Unnoticed by him, she slipped a double dose into his mug of tea.

He drank the tea slowly smiling and joking all the time and breaking the poor girl’s heart every time he threw back the curls from his forehead. She waited patiently until the tea was drank.

Her heart missed a beat when he rose from the chair. His face was suffused with blushes and he could hardly speak so great was his agitation. “In the honour of God” he asked, “where’s the toilet?”

She showed him and he went about his business. After a few days in and out of bed, he gave notice to the farmer. He joined the army and became corporal in no time at all.

At this point in time he has a daughter a nun, another a nurse and his only son is, like himself, the proud wearer of an army uniform. The moral of the story is that one man’s food is another man’s poison, or if not then it’s surely something else.