This writer has always been a big fan of the late John B. Keane and, apart from his plays and books, I used to really enjoy the columns he wrote in The Limerick Leader newspaper.

The columns appeared in The Leader for more than thirty years and now the newspaper has brought much joy to John B’s many fans because they have decided to reprint a selection of his contributions. Like most quality writing, his columns still read as fresh and as entertaining as the day he wrote them.

Last week, in an offering from 1962, John B. was mourning the absence of griddles from modern kitchens and waxing lyrical about the quality of bread that used to be baked on them. ‘You can keep your tomato sandwiches for ukulele players and save the shrimp cocktails for men with regency accents but give me a scalding pointer of griddle-bread with the hot butter dripping from it like molten gold’, said John B., who also noticed that, in modern hotels, men looked guardedly about them before they dipped their bread in their soup and were half ashamed to ask the waitress for a drop of gravy to wet their potatoes.


Harsh facts behind the razzmatazz

The razzmatazz race for the Democratic and Republican nominations for the US Presidency may be making a lot of headlines but behind all the cheering and excitement things are getting tougher and tougher for the undocumented Irish in America.

A County Galway man, who died recently in Boston after battling pneumonia for two weeks, would have survived had he sought medical aid. Unfortunately, 33-year-old Eddie Tracy was scared to seek help because he feared he would be arrested and deported. Mr. Tracy had been working in Boston for eight years and his death came as an enormous shock to Irish people throughout the United States who are very concerned at the worsening plight of the undocumented.

As I write, two families in Kerry are anxiously awaiting news of their sons who were arrested recently and are awaiting deportation. The two men were returning from a skiing trip when they were stopped at a routine traffic inspection in the north of Boston. They were immediately arrested and detained and spent their first week in isolation where they were subjected to medical tests. They now face another eight weeks in jail before being put on a plane and sent home.

Kieran O’Sullivan, an Irish man working in the Irish Pastoral Centre in Boston, said there had been a surge in undocumented Irish being arrested in recent times. He described the case of the two men in question as being ‘very distressing’ and said it was ‘crazy’ that they should be treated as criminals and end up in the County Jail for eight weeks.

Novelty of topless barmaid diminishes

A couple of months ago, in this column, I wrote about a topless bar on the Tipperary-Limerick border that was doing great business but, unfortunately, things have changed for the worst.

Browne’s Bar in Montpelier was the first in the country to employ a topless barmaid whose name was Yasmin and, initially, customers flocked from miles around to be served by the lady in question.

But people are fickle and, after a while, the novelty wore off and as trade dried up, the proprietor, John Joe Fitzpatrick, decided he had no option but to sell up. He said the majority of his clients would have been hard-working men who enjoyed a few pints and a chat but his was a rural pub and his customers were terrified of losing their driving licences so they just stopped coming.

Local rumour has it that the supermarket chain, Aldi, has purchased the licence for €175,000 and the premises, in between the local church and community centre, will now cease to be a pub.

A pint of the best for Herself, Maureen O’Hara

Talking about pubs, a brand-new bar will be opened in the County Mayo village of Cong in time for St. Patrick’s Day. What makes this pub a bit special is that it has been one of the most famous hostelries in the country for over half a century even though, to date, it has never sold a single pint.

‘Cohan’s Pub’ featured in the film ‘The Quiet Man’ but was not a real pub at all and, over the years, literally thousands of people visited the County Mayo village in vain in search of a drink and, perhaps, a photograph at the counter where John Wayne and Victor McLaglen once fought over Maureen O’Hara.

Well, all that has now been put right and, following the resolution of a planning row that lasted a year, the proprietor John Connolly has completed the reconstruction of the former souvenir shop and he hopes that one of his first customers in the new, real bar will be the Hollywood legend herself, Maureen O’Hara.

Dreams of an everyday hurler

Congratulations to Conahy Shamrocks from Kilkenny who recently defeated Moyle Rovers from Tipperary in the All Ireland club junior hurling final played under lights in Croke Park.

In a pre-match interview, when all the hurling talk was finished, the Conahy players were asked to fill in a fun questionnaire about their likes and dislikes.

One of the big questions put to the players was who would be their ‘dream date’ and, from the surprising answers, it emerged that the young hurlers of Kilkenny are big fans of the television soaps, and ‘Desperate Houswives’ in particular, because Eva Longoria was the first choice of many of the players. Film star Jessica Alba was a close runner up but there were some unusual ones in there as well. One player declared that his pin-up and dream date was none other than Alison King who plays Carla Connor in ‘Coronation Street’ while another Kilkenny hurler has the hots for Sammy Winward who plays Katie the surrogate mother-to-be in ‘Emmerdale’.

Mind you, probably the most embarrassing answer, from a Kilkenny point of view, came in the ‘Which Sports Star Would You Most Like To Meet’ category. All the big names were in there, Tiger Woods, Roy Keane, Mohammed Ali and Diego Maradonna but fair play to the player who had the courage and honesty to say that the sports star he would most like to meet was the current Hurler of the Year, Waterford’s Dan Shanahan!

Never break a family tradition!

A Ballybricken man was visiting his brother who lived in London and, for the fun of it, decided to enter ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’. To his huge surprise, he was selected and ended up on the television in the famous chair opposite Chris Tarrant.

All the questions fell right for him and, almost before he knew it, he was facing the 10,000 pound question. “Now”, said Chris, “don’t forget, you still have all three lifelines in place so good luck with this. Here it comes. Who was the man who carried out the Great Train Robbery. Was it Ronnie Biggs, Ronnie Lane, Ronnie Corbett or Ronnie Barker?”

The Ballybricken man was silent for a few seconds before a resigned look came over his face and he replied: “I’m sorry, Chris, I can’t answer that question so I’ll take the five thousand and leave and thank you for a lovely day.”

The television presenter couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Are you mad or what”, he exclaimed, “you have all your three lifelines, why don’t you use them?”

“Because I don’t want to give you the answer to the question”, replied the Ballybricken man.

“You stupid, stupid man, don’t you realise you are throwing away five thousand pounds”, exclaimed the exasperated Tarrant.

“Listen, pal, none of my family was ever an informer and I’m not going to be the first”, said the Ballybricken man firmly.