Lovely Patsy

First published in Out and About 2006

Nora Williams, late of Clogherboy

Patsy the Rover

We always called him lovely Patsy, others called him Patsy the Rover. As far as I know, he left his home for some reason or another and took to the road and became a cattle drover. There were no marts that time so the famers used to hire him to walk their cattle or sheep fifteen to twenty miles to the nearest fair which was held on the streets of the various towns. He was not a tonker nor was he a gypsy and had no fixed abode. In my parents’ time, he used to get lodgings in the old thatched house – “The Mannion household”. He was a quiet, quaint old man. To me, he seemed always old. He wore a hat and strong shoes and a big top coat. He would come every six weeksor so. He had certain houses to call on.

Stayed in Moyne

We discovered he used to stay in Moyne Park House which was occupied by nuns and student priests. They were very good to him and he might stay there for a week or so. The nuns used to wash his clothes and knit lovely Bainin socks for him. He was always spotlessly clean when he came to our house. That would be when the thresher had been so he would have nice clean straw to make his bed. We would see him coming across the fields with his stick across his shoulder with his little bag full of food which he collected on his way hanging on the camog of his stick.

We loved to see him coming

We used love to see him coming as he was always singing old ballads and such songs as ‘ My Old Kentucky Home Far Away’ and ‘Johnny Comes Marching Home’. He was always telling stories as well.  He must have come from America. He would never tell where he came from or where he was going next. He had his haunts. When he came, he would place his little bag in the corner of the dresser. When it was time for him to eat, he would make a fine strong pot of tea for himself. You would trot a mouse in it, it was so black. He then would put some newspaper on the hob and put the contents of his bag on display. He boiled a couple of green duck eggs in an old saucepan on the open fire.  When these were ready, he would pull a chair over beside the fire, take a heel of bread from his collection and eat and drink his fill. He always washed his mug and other utensils afterwards.

Smoking his pipe

He had an old crooked pipe and he would start scraping it with his penknife till he got all the waste residue out of it. He would cut the plug tobacco into small pieces and then rub it in the well of his hand until he had it lovely and fine. He would then fill the bowl of the pipe and set it alight, a few good pulls and he was away. I can still smell the odour of his tobacco. He would start singing all the old ballads and we would start writing down the words.

Bed and Board

There was always a pot of stirabout hanging on the crane for the supper and he would help himself to a plate of it before he started to make his bed. He would go out to the haggard and pull a few bundles of straw and tie each one – that was for his mattress. He would stretch out the length of his arms to measure his bed and lay down the straw neatly. Then he would put a clean pulp bag down for his sheet. He put all the chairs forming a cot around his bed for privacy and then start undressing. He would get very vexed if he caught us laughing at him. His jacket with all his personal bits such as money and documents, he put under his head for a pillow and for safety. All the other bits were hugh on the chairs. His topcoat was his blanket and he layed down for the night. There was no back window in the house so he was snug as a mug beside the kitchen fire. He had a bit of breskfast the next morning and hit for the road again. He collected enough food again to last him a few days more.

His stay was always short

He would stay a few nights at a time and we were lonely when he went. Then he stopped coming. He had certain houses which he stayed in. I believe he used to stay in Concannons in Imane. I would love to know what happened to him or where he was buried. Any information would appreciated.

This page was added on 27/09/2018.

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