'Civilised world' will soon get taste of Quaid's County

John B Keane


John B Keane

'Civilised world' will soon get taste of Quaid's County

People gathered for the Dan Paddy Andy festival in Lyrecompane

THIS has been a week of ultimatums. The first comes from Delia Slemin of Lower Athea. She writes as follows:

“Do not write anymore about Thady Woods or you will be sorry. I will be worse than the Provisionals to you. ‘Tis enough to have to pay dear money for the Leader without reading this.

“Why not write about all the great other people of West Limerick. You should be put upon a Castlemahon ass and left off. See how would that suit you?”

The other ultimatum comes from “One of the Quaid Family”.

“Dear Mr. Keane, as one of Joe Quaid’s family I want to ask your request to leave his name out of your column. I am sure you have a family of your own and will understand how embarrassing all that old trash is. He should understand himself for us.”

There is more but the point is made.

To these two ultimatums I would say the only people with the right to say don’t put my name in your column are the aforementioned Thady Woods and Joe Quaid.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to mention Joe Quaid’s name anymore until I got the letter because his book “Quaid’s County” is now complete and all that remains is to find a suitable publisher, so not only will the exploits of Joe Quaid be known to Leader readers but the whole civilized world, as innocent missionaries used to call it, will have the opportunity of entering Quaid’s County.


There is no active matchmaker in Kerry. Since the death of that legendary figure, the great Dan Paddy Andy O’Sullivan, no aspiring go-between has appeared to fill the terrible void left by his passing.

His was a great warrant to make matches and it is estimated that he brought four hundred couples together who might have remained single.

To his home under Knight’s Mountain, in the lands of Lyreacrompane, would come hundreds of men and women looking for suitable partners.

Invariably, Dan succeeded in getting partners for them. His fee was a pound per cow in the case of farmers and in the case of tradesmen there was a flat fee of twenty pounds.

Dan was never on the best of terms with the clergy for the simple reason that he opened his dance hall during Lent when all the other dance halls were closed by Church order.

Admission was six pence and later a shilling except in the case of an occasion when there might be strange music, i.e. a band from a nearby town.

Then the charge was upped to 1/6d.

Seriously speaking, there is a need for another Dan Paddy Andy because it is a known fact that his marriages were happier than many of the so-called love marriages. To Dan Paddy’s marriages the love came in God’s good time, and when it did the blossom was lasting and the fruit ripe and sound.

I personally remember an occasion when Dan was asked by a man who weighed 21 stone to procure a wife for him. Dan told his client that it would be extremely difficult in view of his great weight.

“I’d pay anything,” said the client.

“Give me two pounds a stone,” said Dan, “and I’ll see what I can do for you.”

Dan Paddy Andy O’Sullivan once stood for the Kerry County Council but his bid to win a seat was unsuccessful.

Perhaps his most memorable address was in Castleisland, when he spoke to a crowd of several hundred after Mass one Sunday. I will not give the text of the speech, merely its opening.

“People of Castleisland,” said Dan, “and that way back.”

However, all is not lost while we have a man of the integrity of Patrick T. Ahern, of Glensharrold, willing to use this undeniable talents in an effort to promote more marriages. There is hope still left.

Also, there is a very gifted organisation in the city of Limerick which caters for those who wish to enter for the matrimonial stakes. This is the Concord Club, 8 Verona Park, Limerick.

Time, please

I’m sure nearly everybody has heard the story of the guard who was once asked by a tourist in Ballybunion what time the pubs closed. The famous answer was, “Just after Listowel Races, sir.”

Now there is the story of the guard who was stopped on the street one night by two men who were returning from a football final. It was late and there was no sign of life in any of the public houses.

“Excuse me, guard,” said one of the two men, “but do you know any place where two fellows could get a drink?”

“No,” said the guard, “but I know where three fellows would get one.”

A volume?

Brother Steve or Stephen of the Alexian Brothers in Manchester still sends his latest compositions. Steve was originally a native of Kilmallock, and after serving with the Irish Army and spending a period as a clown with Duffy’s Circus, he joined the Alexians. His latest piece is entitled, “The Lifting of the Latch.”

The rich green grass is growing now

Where a little home once stood;

Its walls agleam with whitewash

They were made from yellow mud.

But there was ‘ere a welcome there

Which no mansion grand could match;

For it turned into paradise

With the lifting of the latch.

Long, long ago, that wee house stood

Near the Cross of Thomastown;

All gilded like a castle,

As the evening sun went down.

God save all here, I would cry with cheer,

As the handle I would catch;

And likewise you, came brightly through,

As I lifted up the latch.

Thank you, Brother Steve. The sooner you bring out a volume of your songs, poems and ballads, the better.

Last letter

NOW FOR a last letter from Ballough. It is signed, “Yours sincerely, Another Ass.”

“Dear Mr Keane, you talk about wild asses and Brother Steve he was a circus clown he made an awful change. I wonder how he thought of it. You don’t find many of those brothers clowns and he seems very interested in asses. There are a few of them around here, some of them with two legs but whether its braying or bawling they are, they never stops.

“When an ass done that long ago the people would say there was a tinker dead. If that was the case all the tinkers here would be dead. R.I.P., not singling out tinkers deliberate and no harm meant. There is a horse here that eats the barks of trees. Could you tell me what is wrong with him?

“They say he is short of minerals. Asses is wild but the asses with two legs looking for twenty-year-old girls and they fifty is a lot wilder.”

The late, great John B Keane was a Leader columnist for more than 30 years. This column first appeared in our edition of July 8 1972