Believe it or not, an Equality Tribunal has just ruled that a Kenmare publican was not racist in his attitude to people from another county and did not discriminate against four people just because they were from Wexford!The case concerned three men and one woman who were on holiday in Kenmare from Wexford in July 2003. They claimed they were discriminated against in Florry Batts’ Bar because they were not local and had been refused drink on that basis.

The publican, Flor O’Sullivan, denied the charge and said the four people came into his premises on a day that Wexford were playing Waterford in a hurling match. They were served two rounds of drinks but were refused a further round because they began to behave in a progressively loud and aggressive manner. He made his decision, said Mr. O’Sullivan, to keep order in the premises and to keep his other customers happy.

Dismissing the case, equality officer Bernadette Treanor warned that her decision should not be seen as condoning a practice of refusing people who were not locals. However, said Ms. Treanor, as the majority of the Kerry locals were of the same race, colour, nationality and ethnic origin as the complainants, any less favourable treatment was not based on their race. The complainants had failed to establish a prima facia case of discrimination on the basis that they were from Wexford, she said.

A marathonfamily affair

The Dublin City Marathon takes place later this month and, at the weekend, I heard about an interesting Guinness Book of Records attempt that will be centred on the race. Believe it or not, fifteen brothers and sisters from the O’Donoghue family in Birr are in training for the Marathon.

Aged between 32 and 52, none of the siblings has ever run a marathon before but they are determined to create a world record for the largest family ever to complete such a race and they also have a target of raising €50,000 for Down Syndrome Ireland, an organisation that is close to their hearts. It certainly would be an achievement if they all managed to finish the course and I wish the County Offaly family well.

Of bullyboys and cheeky thieves

I see where the gangs of young bullyboys are still roaming the countryside in cars (usually stolen) and terrifying elderly people living alone. Last week, an unfortunate woman, over 80 years of age, was in her home in Ferns, County Wexford, when a gang burst in. They disabled her alarm and told her they had already cut the toes off another woman in the area and, if she didn’t hand over her money, they would do the same to her. They also said they would come back and burn down her home if she contacted the gardai after they had gone.

As it turned out, the terrified woman didn’t have any money and the raiders left empty-handed after ransacking her house. Unfortunately, the Ferns woman was not the only victim of the gang because, between 6pm and 8.30pm, on the same night they attacked at least eight houses in the Camolin, Ferns, Bunclody and Carnew areas before escaping in the direction of Tullow. I bet the lads on the Wexford hurling team would only love to engage those little gurriers in a ‘challenge’ match!

Still on the subject of thieves, a friend of mine attended Mass in Dunshaughlin, County Meath, recently and observed a cheeky crook who helped himself to the proceeds of the Offertory collection in full view of the congregation! In the region of €400 had been collected from the congregation at the 10am Mass at St. Patrick’s and St. Seachnall’s Church and, as usual, the various collectors deposited their baskets on the steps of the altar.

Then, as Communion was being distributed, a well-built man wearing a blue tracksuit with a GAA crest calmly walked onto the altar in a businesslike manner and collected all the baskets before exiting through the vestry door. He quickly emptied the money into a plastic shopping bag and was almost away when the suspicions of a member of the parish committee were aroused. She investigated and then, with the assistance of another Mass-goer, gave chase and apprehended the culprit.

It would appear that churches are back on the target list for thieves because a raider went through the collection boxes in St. Mary’s and St. Michael’s parish church in the town recently and got away with several hundred euro. Apparently, the boxes were expertly cut open and emptied of their contents, money that would have been used for the upkeep of the church.

All the lovely babies

James and Mary were unable to conceive children and, following much soul searching and medical advice, they decided to use a surrogate father to get Mary pregnant. They also decided to complete the procedure in the ‘old fashioned, natural way’.

On the day the surrogate father was to arrive, James kissed his wife goodbye and said he would return when the deed was done. Fifteen minutes later, purely by chance, a door-to-door, commercial photographer, who specialised in children’s portraits, called to the house.

‘Good morning, madam. I’ve come to….’, he began, before being interrupted by Mary. ‘Oh, there’s no need to explain, I’ve been expecting you’, she said blushing deeply, ‘please come in.’

‘Well, thank you very much’, said the photographer, declaring that he made a speciality of babies. ‘Of course, that’s what my husband and I had hoped for’, said Mary.

There was an awkward silence but then Mary stood up in a determined manner and, blushing again, said: ‘Well, where do we start?’ ‘Leave everything to me’, said the photographer, ‘I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch and perhaps a couple on the bed. Sometimes the living room floor is fun too.’

‘Bathtub, living room floor, are you sure’ asked a somewhat shocked Mary. ‘Well, madam, none of us can guarantee a good one every time but, if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven different angles, I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results.’

‘Mother of God’, gasped Mary, ‘that’s an awful lot of fuss, I thought it would be more straightforward.’

The photographer smiled patiently. ‘Madam, in my line of work, a man must take his time. I’d love to be in and out in five minutes but you’d be disappointed with that, I’m sure.’ Mary didn’t know what to say so she said nothing.

The photographer then opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. ‘This one was created in the back of a bus in St. John’s Park and these twins turned out exceptionally well when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with.’ ‘Really, why was she difficult’, asked Mary incredulously.

The photographer grimaced as he recalled that particular job. ‘The mother wasn’t happy with any place I suggested so, in the end, I finally had to take her to the People’s Park to get the job done right. It was very difficult because people were crowding around watching us all the time. And, to make matters worse, the mother was constantly yelling at me to change my positions. It was very difficult for me to concentrate on the actual job in hand.’

‘Anyway’, said the photographer, shuddering at the memory, ‘that’s all in the past. Let’s get down to business and, if you’re ready, I’ll set up my tripod.’

‘What on earth do you want a tripod for’, asked a surprised Mary. ‘I’m a professional, Madam, and I have to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It’s much too big to manage without some help to keep it up.’

The photographer couldn’t understand why Mary, white in the face, suddenly declared that she had changed her mind as she all but pushed him out of her house.