It had been a long day for the masked Lone Ranger John Reid and his kemo sabe (Potawatomi language for – ‘trusty scout’.) Tonto. Having tracked Bartholomew “Butch” Cavendish through Bryant’s Gap and across miles of hot dusty Texas terrain, both men found themselves close to Del Rio, so they headed for the saloon and sat down to drink beer.
A short time later, a tall, mean looking cowboy walked in and called out loudly “Who owns the big white horse outside?” The Lone Ranger stiffened, then stood up, hitching his gun belt as he turned to face the stranger. “I do… why?” he said, in a low Texas voice.
The cowboy looked at the Lone Ranger, “I reckon you should know Mister, that your horse is all but dead outside!” he said. The Lone Ranger and Tonto crossed the 20 ft salon floor area in just three long strides. Rifles cocked, they gazed over the saloon’s pine louvered swinging doors and sure enough all the signs indicated that his horse, ‘Silver’, was about to die from heat exhaustion.
The Lone Ranger rushed to get Silver a bucket of water from the street pump, and soon the animal began to slowly recover.
Now turning to Tonto, the Lone Ranger said “Tonto, I want you to run around Silver in continuous circles and see if you can create a breeze, to further cool the animal down”. Tonto replied “Sure, kemo sabe” and took off running circles around Silver, waving his deer skin poncho in the air, as he moved.
Unable to further assist, the masked Lone Ranger returned into the saloon to finish his beer. A few minutes later, another ‘wrangler’ struts into the bar and loudly asks, “Who owns that big white Palomino horse outside?”
Again the Lone Ranger stiffened, standing slowly and hitching his gun belt as he moved, he turned to face the stranger, “I do Mister, so what’s your problem”?
“No offence Mister” said the stranger, “but I believe you left your injun runnin!”
The proprietor of a local licensed hostelry here in Thurles was so sure that his bartender was the strongest man in the county, that he offered a standing €5,000 bet to anyone who could defeat him.
His wager featured around his bartender being able to squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass. He would then hand the squeezed lemon to any challenging patron, defying them to squeeze even one single drop of juice out of the same lemon. Many people had tried to win the bet over the years: Weight Lifters, Truck Drivers, Hell’s Angels, Cavan Men, latter known to keep a fork in their sugar bowl, even WWE Professional Wrestlers, who all tried their luck, but all to no avail.
Then last week a scrawny little excuse for a man arrived into the bar, wearing black rimmed, thick glasses; a polyester suit and carrying a polished, black briefcase. In a commanding squeaky voice he challenged the busy bar man, stating, “Sir, I’d like to take on your €5,000 challenge, please.”
After the expected bout of boisterous laughter from local patrons had died down, a grinning bartender said “OK”. Grabbing a lemon, he squeezed it in his monster fist, before handing the dried out, crumpled, remains of pith and rind to his scrawny challenger.
The laughter of assembled lunch time patrons suddenly turned to a deafening silence, when, to their amazement, the scrawny man clenched his fist around the squashed lemon, forcing six drops of lemon juice to splatter unto the well polished, shiny bar counter.
The crowds mood turned to cheering as the bartender, somewhat reluctantly paid across the €5,000 in cash. Anxious now to find out more about this little man the defeated and somewhat embarrassed bartender asked, “What do you do for a living? Are you a lumberjack, a weight-lifter, or something?”
“Neither”, the scrawny, bespectacled little man replied, “I work in the VAT Section of the Irish Revenue Commissioners. I’m really here to examine your accounts.”
Local ‘Tarmac Specialist’ Mick Ryan had called into his local barber’s shop on Liberty Square, Thurles for one of his two only annual haircuts.
“Jasus by the look of things you soon won’t be calling in here at all”, said barber Johnny Curran, as he surveyed Mick’s rapidly balding head.
“Sure financially won’t that be more of a tragedy for you than me,” said Mick, grinning into the mirror, as barber Johnny flung his cloth ‘hair apron’ expertly around his newest customer.
“Seriously, talking about tragedy”, said Johnny, “I heard the local Labour Party TD was up visiting the primary school’s sixth class the other day”.
“Probably checking their water metre”, said Mick, again grinning at his reflected unruly appearance.
“A begorra no, Mick, at least I don’t think so”, but it seems he walked into the classroom in the middle of a discussion relating to words and their supposed meanings”, said Johnny. “It seems that this particular teacher is one of those rare Labour Party supporter not yet forced out of Ireland and being overawed by his presence; she asked him if he would like to lead on her ‘teacher nattering’; to which the politician, feeling qualified, readily agreed”, Johnny the barber continued.
“This same illustrious politician then asked the teacher’s class for an example of the word ‘tragedy’ to be contained in a sentence”, continued Johnny. One little boy (supposedly Paddy Hayes son), stood up and offered: ‘If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor runs over him and kills him; that would be a ‘tragedy’, Sir”.
“No”, said the Labour politician, “That would be an accident.”
A little girl now raised her hand slowly exclaiming: “If a school, bus carrying fifty children, drove over the cliff of Moher, killing everyone inside, that would be a ‘tragedy’, Sir”, she squealed out excitedly. “I’m afraid not”, said the Labour politician, “That’s what we would call a great loss”.
The room fell silent, according to Johnny, with now no other children volunteering any answers. The now puffed up Labour politician visually searched the room; “Isn’t there someone here who can surely give me an example of a sentence containing the word ‘tragedy’?” he pleaded
Finally, from the back of the room, Snotser Bourke raised his hand and in a loud voice proclaimed: “If a plane carrying you and Joan Burton was struck by a ‘friendly fire missile’, while travelling over Soviet Russia and God forbid ye were blown into tiny smithereens, surely that would be a ‘tragedy’.”
“Fantastic, you’re a bright lad”, exclaimed the Labour politician. “That’s totally right and now can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?” “Well Sir,” says Snotser “It has to be a tragedy, because according to what my father believes, it certainly wouldn’t be a great loss and it probably wouldn’t be a fecking accident either.”
“True for the Bible”, said Mick, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings for sure. I suppose you won’t be charging me as much for this haircut, since you agree there is less to cut, what with current austerity and everything.”
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.
Pothole found on Thurles bridge. NRA to investigate.
“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 “
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.”