Day 29: King Puck; Bad Luck

Laetitia and her group continued on the Ring of Kerry to Killorglin. Killorglin is a picturesque town on a salmon fishing river, the Laune. Each year on August 10–12, Killorglin plays host to the Puck Fair. The king of the Puck Fair is a mountain goat. The festival stems from when Cromwell invaded Ireland and a herd of stampeding mountain goats warned the Killorglin villagers of the approach of his army. As leader of an imaginary tour, Laetitia could have taken her group to Killorglin at the time of the Puck Fair, but this day’s group was crowd-shy, so she didn’t bother. Instead they went to the Basement Museum that tells the history of the area in old photographs and newspapers. They then visited a cheese factory where a local variety of gouda is made.

That afternoon in the pub she talked to the bartender about the Puck Fair, and he told her a story—unverified, as usual—that became the limerick for the day.

Bowing low at the fair for King Puck
At the end of a dance was bad luck
As the crowd clapped and cheered
By King Puck, Colm was reared
And he now walks around like a duck.

Day 28: Vicar Snicker

Glenbeigh is a picturesque small village on the Ring of Kerry. Its primary occupation was once fishing, and but now it is largely tourism. It has a lovely beach with a view across the bay to the Dingle Mountains. Laetitia took her group to the Bog Village Museum, a recreated eighteenth century community with thatched cottages, blacksmith’s forge, turf cutter’s house, stable dwelling, and dairy house.

Later they visited the ruin of Wynne’s Castle, also known as “Wynne’s Folly.” Lord Headly Wynne built the mansion/castle in 1867. He dramatically raised the rents of his tenants to pay the building costs, and his agents brutally removed any of his tenants who couldn’t raise the increased rents. Lord Wynne gradually drifted into insolvency and left the Glenbeigh area entirely at the time of World War I, renting the buildings to the British Army for a reservist-training center. In 1921, the Irish Republican Army burned the castle.

An anecdote heard in the local pub that evening, allegedly about a local vicar, gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

When a vicar who lives in Glenbeigh
Found his shirttail was caught in his fly
He continued to preach
While concealing this breach
By saying, “Let’s all gaze on high.”

Day 27: Kells Bells

Kells is a small village overlooking Dingle Bay. Its lovely open landscape and spectacular views make it a favorite for hill walkers. This Kells, on the Ring of Kerry, should not be confused with the Kells in County Meath that is associated with the Book of Kells. Laetitia took her group hill walking around the area, arriving back in Kells in the afternoon. She had a few hours before dinner, so she sat in a pub at the bar sipping a Guinness and reading the book she had brought along.

The book was The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers was one of Oxford’s first female graduates. She was a classical scholar, poet, essayist, translator, and playwright. Sayers is probably best known for her mystery novels featuring her amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey. The plot of The Nine Tailors centers around change-ringing, the ringing of a set of six or eight tuned bells in a mathematical sequence, but not a recognizable melody. A variety of sequences are played, and they have interesting names like Grandsire Caters, Erin Triples, Titanic Cinques, and Kent Treble Bob Major.

The pub was mostly empty, so the bartender wasn’t busy. He said, “I recognize that book. I used to see a lady in town named Fiona reading it. She came here from Dublin to teach, and as she was single and good-looking, I read it myself so I’d have something to talk to her about. It didn’t do me much good, though, since she didn’t seem to take much interest in the local men.”

He went on to tell Laetitia that he didn’t find the book very interesting, but Fiona seemed to be obsessed with the book and with change-ringing itself. Every few weeks she’d tell everyone she was going off to St Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick or Christ Church in Dublin to hear the bell ringers perform. Pretty soon there was a rumor, probably started by some local man with amorous intentions whom she ignored, that she became erotically aroused when she heard change-ringing.

The local parish church had a bell choir that consisted of eight teenage boys. They were at an age when boys are long on testosterone and short on common sense, so when someone bet them that they wouldn’t dare serenade Fiona doing a change-ringing sequence on their hand bells, they took up the challenge. They were pretty good musicians, so it didn’t take them too long to learn Kent Treble Bob Major. On the appointed evening, they appeared on her lawn with the whole town watching from the shadows and gave their performance. It wasn’t a full peal, but was long enough to test the hypothesis. If Fiona was erotically aroused, she didn’t show it, but she graciously came to the door and thanked them.

A few weeks later her school year was over and a man drove up in a fancy car. They loaded her few belongings into the car and left together. Shortly thereafter, her house went up for sale. Sometime later, folks in town learned that she’d been seeing a man from Dublin all along and they’d gone off and gotten married. She wasn’t actually particularly fond of change-ringing. It was just a ruse so she could slip off to Dublin to see her man without creating gossip.

Laetitia listened to the story and later presented her limerick of the day.

When ‘twas rumored a lady in Kells
Became lewd when she heard change-rung bells
Some lads rang on a wager
Kent Treble Bob Major
And soon they found out for themselves.

Day 26: Obscene

By way of the Mind’s Eye Tours Central Office, Laetitia received an invitation to a party in County Kerry where various guests would vie for the distinction of having presented the most obscene limerick. Although Laetitia appreciated a good obscene limerick as well as the next person, she tended to follow the advice given to her by whatever it was that appeared to her in the Leprechaun Hotel in Limerick.

“You are writing these for a mixed crowd
And not one that is drunken and loud
So try to be comical
But not anatomical
And profanity isn’t allowed.”

Perhaps in this case she needn’t have followed that advice, because the party was indeed getting drunken and loud. The highlight of the evening occurred when a spinster from Cahirciveen, who had a reputation for limericks that were especially vile, agreed to present her latest limerick. She said she would do so only if she could leave out all or the really foul words, and allow the guests to use their imaginations to fill in the blanks. The spinster presented her limerick, and then Laetitia wrote a multiple-verse limerick about the spinster and the limerick.

When a spinster from Cahirciveen
Said a Limerick dreadfully obscene
Foul words she’d replace
With a “duh” in the space
And let hearers fill in what they deemed.

One night at a ceili in Kerry
After several glasses of sherry
She said one aloud
For the whole party crowd
As the evening began to get merry.

“Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh
Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh
Duh duh duh duh duh
Duh duh duh duh duh
Duh duh duh duh f__k duh duh duh duh.”