…I often laugh quietly to myself when I hear people say that all the great characters are gone from the world. The characters are still there waiting to be discovered…
John B. Keane introduces us to ‘Corner Boys’, ‘Window Peepers’, ‘Human Gooseberries’, ‘Fortune-Tellers’, ‘Funeral Lovers’, ‘Female Corpses’, ‘The girls who came with the Band’ and many more fascinating characters in Love Bites and Other Stories.
Keane is one of Ireland’s most humorous authors and is recognized as a major Irish playwright. He has written many bestsellers including Letters of a Successful TD, Letters of an Irish Parish Priest, Letters of an Irish Publican, Letters of a Matchmaker, Letters of a Love-Hungry Farmer, The Gentle Art of Matchmaking, Irish Short Stories, More Irish Short Stories, The Bodhràn Makers and Man of the Triple Name. His plays include The Field, The Year of the Hiker, Big Maggie, Sive, Sharon’s Grave, Many Young Men of Twenty, The Man from Clare, Moll, The Change in Mame Fadden, Values, The Crazy Wall and The Buds of Ballybunion.
A wonderful little book full of characters that make you laugh and cry. Each little story is only about 2 1/2 pages long. Perfect to pick up for a quick story when you have a few minutes, need a laugh, or like at my house on the ‘john’, no pun intended! One of them, ‘Hatching’, was a tale of a chicken appointed to sit on a clutch of eggs that weren’t hers. Problem was she wouldn’t cooperate and sit on them! Every chance she got she made for the door and would have to be recaptured and sat back on it only to run again. The family was exhausted…
‘There’s only one cure for the hoor,’ announced an old woman who chanced to call one evening for the loan of a cup of sugar.
‘What’s that?’ we all asked.
‘The bottle,’ said she. We waited for elaboration but none came. We asked again.
‘What bottle,’ said she, ‘but the hot stuff.’
Of course we all knew what the hot stuff was. Weren’t the man of the house and his cronies greatly addicted to it without any great harm!
‘It will rest the creature,’ said the old woman, ‘and it will keep her off her feet.’
So the hot stuff was brought out and the said chicken was presented with a saucer of it and they kept her drunk so she would sleep and sit on the eggs so the hatching process could progress!
After a fortnight the eggs were hatched and there emerged twelve of the handsomest chicks you ever saw.
The hatcher died soon afterwards of liver disease but she had nobly served her purpose and if some may crib about forcing her into alcoholism I say to these to come and have a gander at the lovely chicks she hatched. They grew up into outstanding specimens of their breed, seven hens and five cocks. One hen who wandered too far from the fowl-run was carried off by a fox but the other eleven survived and I know for a gospel fact that not a solitary one of that fine clutch ever put a taste of booze to their beaks to the day they departed for that heavenly henhouse in the sky. So we see some more of the good uses to which whiskey may be put as if there weren’t enough already.
I think you’d enjoy this little gem!
John B. Keane was born in Listowel Ireland in 1928. He and his wife Mary lived over their pub, referred to as John B.’s. He wrote in a small room there. He died in 2002 of prostate cancer. His eldest son operates it now. It’s a wonderful place and Billy Keane is a wonderful storyteller! We got to visit it on our tour in 2019. We had scones and drink and Billy told us stories of growing up with his da and local stories. He had us all laughing so! One of the highlights for me of the trip. You can watch a nice interview with Keane done for his 70th birthday HERE.
Sive (pronounced like hive) was Keane’s first play. It dealt with arranged marriages and was a tragic tale. You can listen to an audio recording of the play HERE. There is a mural painted behind the bar of a scene from the play. I got a good shot of it!
Listowel is a lovely town and I wish we could have spent more time there! If you ever get a chance to go DO!
#Read Ireland Month #Beggoraton21 @Cathy’s 746 Books!