Miss Biddy O’Houlihan, the retired church organist, was now in her eightieth year and despite several offers of marriage, had never succumbed to the need of selecting a husband. Throughout the community of Thurles, down through the years, she was much revered for her genuine kindness and generosity. Indeed her excellent flower arrangements for weddings were most highly regarded for being either very reasonably priced or, in the majority of cases, not priced at all, thus further enhancing her popularity from a local perspective.
One afternoon a member of the local clergy came to pay her a courtesy visit and was shown into her quaint, tidy, sitting room. As was her normal courtesy shown to visitors, Biddy invited the Priest to ‘take a seat’, while she would leave him for a moment to ‘put on the kettle’.
As Biddy set about buttering a couple of her much sought after fresh ‘Sultana Scones’, the Priest sunk his rear end into the bright tapestry covered armchair to which he had been directed, sitting facing the old, well polished Hammond organ. His gaze was immediately drawn to a Waterford cut-glass bowl half filled with water, which sat top centre on this shiny musical instrument. Well, to be honest it was not the cut-glass bowl which first caught his attention; rather it was the object which floated on the water which this bowl contained.
The Priest, not surprisingly became immediately perplexed, after all what would a single lady her eightieth year be doing with a condom, (yes a real condom), in plain sight of the public’s view, floating in a bowl of water on Miss Biddy’s favoured musical contraption.
His thoughts were soon interrupted by the soft short steps of Miss Biddy returning; balancing a tray, laden with tea and steaming hot buttered scones. Miss Biddy began to chat, while the Priest struggled to stifle his curiosity regarding this bowl of water and its rather strange ‘floating object’.
He tried his very best to concentrate on the current conversation and to contain his bursting curiosity, but soon his inquisitive nature got the better of him and he could no longer resist the question; “Miss Biddy”, he said, “I wonder if you would tell me about this?”, he, pointing to the bowl and its as yet unexplained floating subject matter.
“Oh, yes,” Biddy replied smiling, “Isn’t it wonderful? I was walking my dog, ‘Horatio’, through the new Thurles Park a few months ago and I found this little package on the ground. From what I could decipher from the somewhat worn directions on the package; it stated I was to place the contents on the organ, keep it damp and it would prevent the spread of disease. Could you credit this Father, I haven’t had the flu so far this winter.”