Local County Councillors have discovered in recent days that a large pothole has emerged on Barry’s Bridge in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. In fact same has been there since Xmas last but somehow went unnoticed until last Tuesday’s monthly Co. Council meeting.
Mick was the first to arrive at 8.30am this morning, whistling “Sliabh na mBan,” (Irish Translation – ‘Mountain of the women’) as he free-wheeled down Liberty Square, Thurles, on his rusty ‘High Nelly’ bicycle; to come to a staggered halt on Barry’s bridge.
“Bejasus you are out and about early Mick,” said I.
“Yea,” Mick replied, “I was told to get my arse down here pronto; some emergency regarding the surface on this bridge,” he continued, as he untied his shovel from the crossbar.
“Are we in danger Mick,” said I smiling. “Wouldn’t think so”, said Mick, “but some feckin County Councillor leaked information to the local radio station this morning, from yesterdays County Council meeting; now it appears panic is spreading locally. Don’t forget it’s an election year and according to the NRA (National Roads Authority) Minister Alan Kelly could be recalled from his debate on ‘Climate Change,’ taking place today in Rome, in the presence of His Holiness Pope Francis.”
“Begob that sounds serious Mick,” said I, quickly tripping lightly to firmer ground on the Kobii Cafe side.
Having secured the bike, Mick, shovel in hand, joined me.
“You know this feckin bridge has always been a problem,” confided Mick. “It would be back in the 80’s shortly after the mother died; I was home from England for the funeral. I was on the way back when I discovered she had willed me the cottage instead of me sister, so I remained here and joined the dole. I had worked spreading tarmac for McAlpine, across the water and he had gotten a few jobs over here, so he approached meself, Paddy Ryan and Johnny Connors; (God be good to both of them) to work on this same bloody bridge.”
“All of us were claiming Social Welfare at the time but working quietly on the side. McAlpine’s foreman, Mousey Flynn, gave us our instructions and told us to remember, if any Inspector from the Social Welfare office came sniffing around, to give him a false name,” continued Mick.
“Sure,” Mick continued, “Johnny said, yes Mousey, but what if he catches us unaware like and we can’t think of a name fast enough?” Mousey replied “Look, are ye feckin stupid or what, in a case of difficulty just look around and use one of the names written on the shop fronts in Liberty Square.” (Before he headed off himself to find a snug corner in the Arch Bar.)
“I can see straight away why Mousey was chosen as your foreman,” says I.
“No listen you ejit!” says a frowning Mick. “About an hour passes and as sure as God, lo and behold, a Social Welfare fraud officer turns up. “Right now ye three” says he approaching us, “Ye’re under suspicion of working whilst claiming the dole; give me your names,” he yelled. “Well” said Mick, “I looked around and seeing Hayes’ Hotel said, ‘Mick Hayes’ sir.
Paddy Ryan looked briefly around and spotting Dempsey’s Ladies Drapery (I believe, Paddy spent a lot of his life viewing Dempsey’s Ladies drapery, if you understand my meaning.) and lowering his gaze yells ‘Paddy Dempsey’ sir.
According to Mick, the inspector then turned to Johnny Connors yelling “And you, what’s your name?” to which Johnny replied “Buck” sir, I’m an American”. The Inspector glared at Johnny before demanding “And your second name Buck ?” Johnny replied back “Buck Worm, sir”
“Listen,” said Mick ” I’ll let you go; I’m off to break open me flask of hot Bovril, before the feckin NRA officials land in on top of me and Alan Kelly and Noel Coonan start announcing one new job in Thurles. If I had me way I’d just fill that feckin hole up with 2 small shovels of cold tarmac and be finished with it “