John B Keane: Mooching Yanks are agents of revenge

THE YANKS are coming or at least they came to me, a few of them, towards the end of Writers’ Week in Listowel. Not all Yanks are like these. Some Yanks have money and they stay in hotels. These Yanks had no money, apparent at any rate, and they did not stay in hotels.

THE YANKS are coming or at least they came to me, a few of them, towards the end of Writers’ Week in Listowel. Not all Yanks are like these. Some Yanks have money and they stay in hotels. These Yanks had no money, apparent at any rate, and they did not stay in hotels.

What they would have done was have stayed with me for a few days or a week or as long as I’d like to keep them. I have never met such naive or such selfish people. When they saw they were getting nothing soft from me they left but not before they screwed sandwiches and coffee out of me for nothing.

They are headed towards Kanturk so if anybody from Kanturk happens to read this be forewarned. If you have young American relatives due lock your doors or they’ll eat you out of house and home. They have no pockets in their trousers and they don’t know about standing one’s round.

When I asked one how he was going to survive in Kanturk he told me he had relatives there. I asked him if they were well off and he told me that they were farmers so we might presume that these would be busy hardworking people of the land who have neither the time nor the energy to entertain Yanks.

I asked him if he had any money to give them while he would be staying with them and he told me that money didn’t grow on the streets in America. I felt that there was no point in telling it didn’t grow on the streets of Kanturk either.

It transpired however that he had a few hundred dollars but these were for his own needs. Now it so happens that the young man’s parents are both Irish and should know the score here, i.e. that we Irish have to pay and work for the bite we eat. I often wonder if it’s revenge they are after over sending them away from their native land when they were young and innocent and have no means of resisting the implementation of such a harsh and unjust sentence.

It must be something like that because no human beings could be so unaware of the facts of life.

Lament for a housekeeper

A letter from a Dublin girl who has read or heard somewhere that I am writing a play about a Parish Priest’s housekeeper called Moll sends on the following lines about a departed housekeeper called Josephine:

The presbytery has gone to pot since this housekeeper came.

She’s up-to-date and stylish but the place is not the same.

Since death’s hard summons robbed me of that sterling old machine.

That wore out in my service here, my faithful Josephine.

I fear this new one’s up-to-date, too up-to-date for me.

I tremble at her polished floors and modern crockery.

The old man finds the old ways best, old springs were twice as green.

I’ve heard the bishop praise the stews of clever Josephine.

My study was my Sanctum once, a castle all my own.

But with this one with her natty ways can’t leave the place alone.

Her fingers ache to tidy up and when she’s extra clean.

I sit a stranger in my room and sigh for Josephine.

There are many more verses. It’s a long time now since I first heard Josephine recited at a concert in Listowel. It’s still hard to beat as a party piece.

Back to Paddy Drury

Back to Paddy Drury again. A letter from an Athea man contains many interesting stories about Paddy and Ruckard. He also mentions a famous bellman by the name of Ahern and a local character called the Duke.

One day the Duke made a speech at the Pattern of Knockanure:

“I am the Duke of Ireland”, he boasted. “I will open all the jails of Ireland tomorrow and set all the prisoners free”.

As everybody knows Paddy died in the County Home in Killarney in 1947. On his last trip there he saluted the sister in charge on his arrival.

“No news miss?” he said.

“Don’t call me miss”, she said, “call me Ma’m”.

“I declare to God”, said Paddy, “but I thought all nuns were single.”

“We are married to the saints,” she said.

“I’m glad, “ said Paddy, “that’s a very respectable family.”

Not long before he died Paddy spent most of his time indoors in the Home and by all accounts could not be got to devote himself to prayer to any great extent.

One evening the nuns were saying the rosary led by the Mother. When she said “Grant them eternal rest, Oh Lord.” Paddy intervened.

“I wouldn’t care for that,” Paddy said.

“How do you mean Paddy?” the nun asked.

“I wouldn’t want rest eternal,” he answered. “I’d like to be going the whole time.”

The Fleadh

THE ALL-IRELAND Fleadh Cheoil which will take place for the second time at the end of August is hardly ever mentioned in Listowel. People are inclined to take it for granted. I remember this time last year it was the major topic of conversation and fears were expressed for the future of the town and its inhabitants.

Nothing like that at the time of writing.

I think it is now apparent to everybody that the surest way to ensure a good All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil is to have enough Civic Guards. They must be seen to be there and when this happens they can be a great deterrent.

There is no guarantee that Listowel will be free of undesirable elements for this year’s Fleadh. Many will tell you that Listowel was lucky last year what with the Poop Festival in Brighton and other side attractions elsewhere. Also Listowel was out of the way and this helped.

It is hard to know how this one will turn out. A superhuman effort will again be called for by the local committee. If this is forthcoming - and I’m sure it will be - and if there are enough Civic Guards on duty it could be another success. Another thing about last year’s Fleadh is that while it was what is known as a cultural success it was hardly a success for the many business folk who had amassed great supplies of food for the occasion. Many were left with much of the food.


PERSONALLY speaking I would be a good deal more worried about this year’s Fleadh than last year’s. Word went out beforehand last year that Listowel would not be standing for any nonsense, that a special effort was to be made by both the law and the townspeople to roudyism at a minimum

The town had a determined front and this helped in no uncertain fashion. Finally the music lovers and the forces of the law and order far outnumbered the hoodlums.

Reverse the position and Listowel could be in trouble.

On the credit side it must be said that the town of Listowel beat all the odds last year, confounded the many critics who foretold of doom and disorder and finally had all the amenities necessary for a successful Fleadh. Please God all will go well again this year.

The only danger is complacency.

Crazy football

IN 1964 A Pallasgreen branch of the Rehabilitation Institute of the South West Region was started in Pallasgreen.

Average annual contributions have amounted to four hundred pounds. They have run various functions from fancy dress parades to fashion shows.

Now they intend to hold a crazy football game on July Twelfth at eight o’clock at Pallasgreen. I have been invited to play and if I can at all I’ll take part.

This is the most worthy cause and when one considers the outworn and barbaric nonsense which shall be going on the same day at the other end of the country it’s easy to opt for Pallasgreen.

Enquiries should be addressed to Katherine McNamara, New Pallas, Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick.