THE NEW ferry between Kerry and Clare is bringing a great influx of Clare visitors to North Kerry.
The pubs in Tarbert, Ballylongford, Listowel and Ballybunion will bear me out in this.
Every Sunday in particular, the Clare accent is to be heard in most of Listowel’s pubs and welcome visitors they are for they are well-behaved and gay. I don’t know what things are like at the other side as I haven’t crossed over yet.
Please God, I’ll be going over to open the Colleen Bawn Festival on August 17. The Clare women who visit North Kerry tell me that there is a great scarcity of marriageable man on their side of the Shannon.
They expressed great delight when I told them that we had an abundance of them here.
From the point of view of an increase in the marriage rate in Clare and Kerry the ferry could well be the best thing that ever happened. It would be a blessing to me because I’m addled every week from long lonely letters written by unmarried men and women.
They seem to think I have nothing else to do but find partners for them.
TIS only lately I heard the story about the Ashford man who was followed by crows whenever he went courting his girlfriend.
The girlfriend lived in faraway Rockchapel and at that time the only mode of conveyance was Shank’s Mare, no bad animal if you gave her enough exercise. It was a mighty long journey to the Rock from Ashford and the result was that our friend used to leave early on Sunday afternoon. There were no hotels or eating houses on the way so he would always take his lunch with him. The lunch consisted of a few slices of bread and a porter bottle full of milk.
Every Sunday night he would meet his beloved at a certain cross near the Rock and if he was there before her he would attack the bread and milk.
This night anyway she arrived wearing a knee-length frock the likes of which our man had never seen before. I daresay it was the forerunner of the mini skirt. His mouth was full of bread at the time and the result was that the bread went with his breath. He started to choke and the girl seeing his plight ran towards him as fast as she could.
She gave him a good slap on the back and the bread popped out on the roadway. The minute it did two crows swooped down and whipped it between them.
The next Sunday night the same thing happened. She arrived wearing a trousers and the minute our man saw her coming in the new get-up the bread got caught in his throat in earnest. Again she ran up and gave him the belt in the back. Out popped the bread and this time about twenty crows alighted and had blue murder over the ownership of the bread. The next Sunday comes along and as our man is nearing Rockchapel the sky darkens so he looks up in fear thinking there’s going to be a thunderstorm.
What does he see but a huge flock of crows and they all thinking he was in for another slap on the back. The net result was he decided not to eat the bread at all.
Every other Sunday night he took a jar of pandy. He was tired of the bread going with his breath whenever he saw his darling.
He carried the pandy in a small jam jar which used to hold marmalade jam. He had a spoon too so there was no fear of his starving. The crows arrived as usual and got a great land when there was no bread.
Sunday night after Sunday night he continued to take the jar of pandy but still the crows would arrive out in great numbers from Rockchapel to meet him. For seven years they came until he got married and to this day anyone seen courting at this cross is sure to be surrounded by crows.
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AND NOW an anguished letter from a long-suffering married woman. “Dear John B,” she writes. “God forgive the wretch; I’m innocent.”
A mighty opening but I had to read on for about four pages before finding out what was wrong, who the wretch was and why she was innocent. Apparently the poor woman has been married for 17 years and her man is still mad jealous of her.
Lately she was making a caraway seed cake especially for him. She took off her marriage ring while she was at it and put it on the table nearby so she could keep an eye on it. She kneaded her dough well and turned to the fire to see if all was well in that quarter.
The next thing you know is that a big magpie swoops in the door, grabs the ring in his beak and makes off with it.
The poor woman is demented. A few days pass before the husband notices that the ring is missing. When he does notice it he accuses her of wanting to divorce him. A sad situation all round except for the magpie.
“Is there any hope,” the woman concludes, “that you could give us a call and you passing this way. He likes reading your column and he might believe you if you told him that magpies were always stealing rings.”
The woman is a native of Newcastle. Alright missus, I’ll call and explain.