John B Keane: Men have mind for women in summer as well as winter

“I never had more mind for women than I have now.” The foregoing admission was made by a middle-aged bachelor from near Athea. He made it only the other night in the presence of myself and two others in the bar of the Marine Hotel, Ballybunion.

“I never had more mind for women than I have now.” The foregoing admission was made by a middle-aged bachelor from near Athea. He made it only the other night in the presence of myself and two others in the bar of the Marine Hotel, Ballybunion.

“As for you,” he said to me, “you are talking through your hat when you say that bachelors have mind for women and marriage only in the wintertime.”

This man went on to say that he was quite honestly driven out of his mind from watching curvy misses in bikinis and hot pants. He insisted that these were not to be seen in wintertime.

Two girls in hot pants came in. The navels of both were visible on strips of tanned stomach which were exposed under mini blouses.

Willie Finucane of the Lotts, near Athea, was in our company together with a Moloney man from near Abbeyfeale, and the third man who has a fierce mind for women in summertime and whose name I am not at liberty to disclose.

“I suppose that’s what the poor chap means,” said Willie Finucane, pointing at the girls in the hot pants.

“Can you imagine,” said Willie, “working for weeks in the bog or the quarry without a bite of food and then to have a lovely feed of bacon and cabbage and floury spuds put up in front of you?”

“I can well imagine,” I told him.

“You are not allowed to eat the bacon and cabbage,” Willie went on, “even though you are starving.”

I nodded understandingly.

“It’s the same with this man,” Willie explained. “He is starved for women and although there are women all round him he’s likely to get six months in jail if he touches one of them.”

I sympathised with the man in question and ordered four pints of beer.

“It’s not fair,” said Willie Finucane, and it’s not straight.”

“Neither is the road to Athea,” said the Moloney man from near Abbeyfeale.

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” said Willie Finucane.

Dead Wrong

Joe Quaid, who is currently finishing his life story, under the line of Hook Line and Sinker, told me at his home in Knockadirren last week that there are still people who refuse to believe he is alive.

I was on my way back from Cork and I saw Joe standing on the roadway in his shirtsleeves. I stopped and we got to talking.

It is now nearly five years since Joe was reported dead for the first time. Readers will remember the occasion Joe cycled from Woodford (his then residence) to McKenna’s Yard in Listowel for the purpose of acquiring two sheets of corrugated iron with which he since repaired a hen house near his old home.

On his way out of McKenna’s Yard he was temporarily blinded when the sun was reflected off the corrugated iron.

The result was he stumbled and fell. Joe took his time about getting up and it was while he was lying on the ground that he heard a passing female say: “Joe Quaid must be dead.”

Within earshot was another female well known in Listowel and surrounds for the carriage of highly inaccurate stories. Immediately, because she was a lover of the dramatic situation, she presumed Joe Quaid was dead. She rushed into McKenna’s Yard shouting at the top of her voice: “Poor Joe Quaid, oh poor Joe Quaid.”

At once she was surrounded by a number of farmers who were doing business in the yard at the time. She blessed herself and announced the death of Joe Quaid. By the time she had calmed down, and soon everybody in the yard was saying what a nice fellow Joe was, a sure sign that he had passed away.

I remember to be standing in my own door at the time. A neighbour asked me if I had heard the news of Joe Quaid’s demise. I told him that I hadn’t but that I was sorry because Joe was an old friend of mine and a very nice fellow.

Since I was going away that evening, I knew that I would not be able to attend his funeral. I called into the missus and told her to be sure and get a Mass card, to get it signed and send it to Joe’s abode on the Woodford Road.

In all, Joe told me, when I met him again last week, he had received a total of 19 Mass cards, which must surely be a record for a man who wasn’t dead.

I asked Joe if he felt any the worse for his experience.

“I’m fine,” said Joe, “but I’m worried about one thing.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“We must all go sooner or later,” he said, “and when I go in earnest I won’t get many Mass cards. I’m afraid I got my quota.”

I assured him that this was not so, that those who sent them would send them again, that is, if they hadn’t received their own share of Mass cards beforehand.

Batty asses

The bottom has seemingly dropped out of the piebald or the batty ass market.

Five years ago piebald asses, jacks and mares, were making as much as two hundred pounds apiece. Now all this is changed and at the last Listowel horse fair, they were to be had for a fraction of the former price.

Personally I prefer black asses.

They have a better gloss and have a better mettle. The reason for this fabulous price was the demand for piebalds from English seaside resorts.

Irish people, by and large, are not greatly concerned about the colour of their asses so long as they are even-tempered and useful for bog and creamery. Maybe they are right, although I recall a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins about piebald things. It was called Pied Beauty. Here is one verse as I recall it:

Glory be to God for dappled things.

For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;

For rose-moles in stipple upon trout that swim,

Fresh fire-coal chestnut-falls, finches’ wings;

Landscapes plotted and pieced-fold, follow and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

Jack Faulkner once told me he sold a batty mare in 1934 for seven and sixpence and a double Woodbine. It was considered a fair price at the time. A few years ago, the mare might have fetched anything from a hundred to two hundred pounds.

“Asses are always the same,” said Jack. “It’s people that’s different.”


Carrickerry’s three week long festival, commences tonight, Friday, July 30. The premier event of the festival will be on August 1. There will be a parade of prospective brides sponsored by the Carrickerry Marriage Bureau.

Ages will range from 18 to 80 and the garments worn will include maxis, minis, midis and hot, cold, and lukewarm pants. All bachelors are invited along to take their pick.

Farmers will be particularly welcome as Carrickerry women are noted for liking hard work. During the fine spell, three local farmers’ wives forked 485 wynds of hay in one day.

The annual collection for the North Kerry Old Folks Home at Listowel on Sunday last, realised £263. This was back on other years, but it was proportionate to the present slump which is restricting the circulation of money. The Old Folks Home, incidentally, is under construction at the moment. The contractor is Thomas Gorman of Asdee. The site is near the Listowel General Hospital.

Quite a few people in Listowel are annoyed about Church Gate collections. They feel it’s a sort of hold-up. One man said he felt it was turning people from the mass.

“There’s a collection for something every Sunday,” he said, “It it isn’t the Old Folks Home, it’s the blind and if it isn’t the blind, it’s the retarded, and if it isn’t them it’s one of the political parties. It’s a novelty now if a Sunday passes without a collection. I can’t afford to subscribe to all these charities and at the same time I cannot pass the collectors.”

The man has a point but while there are underprivileged people it’s the moral responsibility of all the people to help. If the State is remiss, then the onus falls on the public and it may seem to some, the Church Gate collection is the best way of raising funds for the needy and infirm.