Leinster Leader 23 December 1933
HOW OWLD NICK ESCAPED
(A Yarn of Rathangan which has a basis of truth in it)
Owld Nick hopped out for a cooling stroll,
Just missing a red-hot clinker of coal
That skimmed his nose as he reached the gate
Pursued by a horrible yell of hate,
And whistling the melody “Home, Sweet Home,”
He sped away over land and foam,
Not minding whither his flight inclined
So long as red Hades was left behind.
Towns, cities, hills, valleys, the ocean vast
Great rivers and lakes – all were swiftly passed:
The moon had vanished and darkness fell
As deep as the blackness of nether Hell
And but for the glow of the lights below
Owld Nick would have wondered what way to go.
He had to get back before break of day,
So he’d make the most of his time away
And, joining duty with pleasure, roam
Till he found a guest for his “Lost Souls Home!”
“It’s not the First time,” and he grinned with glee,
That I’ve given a creature a lift!” says he.
But the grin soon faded for good and all
When he found around him a black, black pall,
So deep, so dense, that the bottomless pit
Was the sun in the heavens compared to it!
“I’m lost,” cried he as he scratched his pate,
“So I’d better drop down and investigate.”
He lit on the ground, stood a moment there
In the awful darkness, quite unaware
That the place he had dropped on, light as a hare,
Was Rathangan, that famous wee town in Kildare!
Kit Kearney that instant was chasing a cat
Which was making away with a fowl, fine and fat,
And, begad, he detected a horrible smell
That could issue from nowhere except from Hell!
The odour of brimstone, silo and dung,
In dreadful mixtures, on all sides hung
Kit cursed like mad as he held his breath,
And flew to the kitchen pale as death,
A word to the boys who were playing nap
A rush up the street minus hat or cap –
A fierce collision – a hellish shout
And Nick, the next minute, was down and out!
Such fiendish luck! To have landed down
(Of all places on earth) in the Border Town
Where the Devil is held in the worst renown!
Old Nick was captured in Leinster St.,
And shackles were placed on his cloven feet.
His tail was knotted around his waist,
And over his horns a pot was placed.
Tied with his tail in a Gordian knot,
Crowned with a rusty, discarded pot,
Kicked, cuffed and battered with belt and stick –
Twas a grand reception they gave Owld Nick!
A Council of War with Kit in the chair
Was held in the centre of Paradise Square
Owld Nick in the middle, still as death
With bulging eyeballs and panting breath,
His tongue protruding, his nerves all gone –
Waiting the break of a fatal dawn: –
One minute late at the nethermost gate
Would doom Owld Nick to a terrible fate:
Dethroned as Satan that moment, he
The lowest minion in Hell would be,
Flung to the mercy of all the rest
Of those he had tortured with demon zest,
With cruel horrible laugh and jest!
The Council’s minds made up at last,
The following motion was put and passed: –
“Resolved: That in view of the fact that we
Have captured the King of Iniquity
And hold him prisoner, fast and firm,
So that he cannot move or squirm:
(1) We’ll keep him for a little while,
Despite his odour, which is vile,
(And which we, incidentally,
Leave it to Owen J. Magee,
Our worthy Chemist, to dispose of
With every remedy he knows of
Jeyes Fluid, Lysol, bags of Lime
And do it in the quickest time).
(2) We offer Satan quick release,
Provided he will keep the peace
By keeping far away from here
Each day and night in every year.
Instructing Agents on their rounds
That Wee Rathangan’s out of bounds,
And must not evermore be made
A centre for the Devil’s trade.
(3) If Satan makes the vow aforesaid,
He be released and nothing more said.”
Twas a topping motion, you’ll all agree,
With not a loophole one could see,
Compendious, courteous, water-tight,
Embodying their view aright
They daren’t keep him, in point of fact,
Because of a certain P.I Act,
Against whose meaning, mood and tense
Nick was a menace and offence
Leaving that Act aside, you see,
The lad was the worst of company,
Whose presence, say, in Paradise Square,
Was hardly to be looked for There!
In short, it may be freely granted
That Nick was neither loved nor wanted,
And so, twas easy to make a case
For keeping him out of the little place
Owld Nick glanced round: he was caught as last
And the precious minutes were speeding fast:
Compelled to yield to superior force,
He croaked in a voice grown thick and hoarse:
“I’ll make a vow,” and he gave a groan,
“On one condition, and one alone:
That you give me a drink of water, drawn
From a Public Pump ere the break of dawn!”
No cheers went ringing across the Square
From the crown of captors assembled there:
Instead, dazed silence came floating down
There wasn’t a drop of Spring Water in Town ! ! !
Long ere the dawn touched hill or lawn
Owld Nick with a roar of derision was gone!
The principal point of discussion now
Is: – What becomes of the Devil’s vow,
In view of his captors’ enforced omission
To meet the Owld Reprobate’s simple condition?
The wise ones say, and they ought to know,
That local affairs are in status quo!
Re-typed by Jennifer O’Connor