HOW OWLD NICK ESCAPED

by ehistoryadmin on April 13, 2017

Leinster Leader 23 December 1933

HOW OWLD NICK ESCAPED

by

Padraig O’Kennedy

(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

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