Monday, 26 February 2018

Trees in the town park, Beef Tea, a poem, and Anew McMaster in The Plaza

Photo: Chris Grayson


Trees in the town park, February 2018

We are very lucky to have a great variety of trees in the town. I have noticed much new planting being done in the park.

 These really tall trees look fairly vulnerable to me. I'm glad to see that new trees have been planted in front of them, to replace them when the inevitable happens.

These are the new trees. They are just inside what remains of the old stile, pictured below


Beef Tea           by John B. Keane

I am certain there are many people who have never heard of beef tea much less drank it. When I was a gorsoon there was a famous greyhound in my native town who was once backed off the boards at Tralee greyhound track. He was well trained for the occasion and specially fed as the following couplet will show;

We gave him raw eggs and we gave him beef tea
But last in the field he wound up in Tralee.

Beef tea in those days was  a national panacea as well as being famed for bringing out the best in athletes and racing dogs. Whenever it was diagnosed buy the vigilent females in the household that one of us was suffering from growing pains we were copiously dosed with beef tea until the pains passed on. The only thing I remember in its favour is that it tasted better than senna or castor oil.

I remember once my mother enquiring of a neighbour how his wife was faring. Apparently the poor creature had been confined to bed for several weeks suffering from some unknown but malicious infirmity.

“Ah,” said the husband sadly,” all she is able to take now is a drop of beef tea.”

She cannot have been too bad for I have frequently heard it said of invalids that they couldn’t even keep down beef tea. When you couldn’t even keep down beef tea it meant that you were bound for the inevitable sojourn in the bourne of no return.

Of course it was also a great boast for a woman to be able to say that all she was able to stomach was beef tea. It meant that she was deserving of every sympathy because it was widely believed that if a patient did not respond to beef tea it was a waste of time spending good money on other restoratives. It was also a great excuse for lazy people who wished to avoid work. All they had to say was they were on beef tea and they were excused. No employer would have it on his conscience that he imposed work on someone believed to be on their last legs.

On another occasion, as I was coming from school, I saw a crowd gathered outside the door of a woman who had apparently fainted a few moments before.
“How is she?’ I heard one neighbor ask of another.
“They’re trying her with beef tea now,” came the dejected response. The woman who had asked the question made the sign of the cross and wiped a tear from her eye.

(more tomorrow)


The Millennium Arch and Bridge Road


Here is another poem from a great anthology I picked up in the charity shop. The book is called  For Laughing out Loud.

Someone said that it couldn't be done

Anonymous author

Someone said that it couldn't be done -
But he, with a grin, replied
He'd never be one to say it couldn't be done -
Leastways not 'til he tried.
So he buckled right in, with a trace of a  grin;
By golly, he went right to it.
He tackled The Thing That Couldn't be Done!
And he couldn't do it.


Church Street "Entertainments" Remembered

Billy McSweeney writes;

I remember Anew McMaster's visit to Listowel very well. I actually
managed to be in the audience in the Plaza cinema, (today the Ozanam
Centre), across the road from my home, to see him play McBeth. I was too
young to really understand it but I vividly remember McMaster in his
stage makeup. The sight was frightening to a child. My mother felt that
I was too young to see some of his other amazing offerings from the pen
of Shakespeare, so I was warned to stay away. This was definitely in the
Plaza and not the Library. I also remember the yellow posters pasted to
the walls of the derelict library in Bridge Rd. (as written by Eamon
Keane). The latter was a common occurence.

My belief is that it was McMaster's visit to Listowel that was the
inspiration for the 'local' lads to put on their later 'entertainments'
in the Carnegie Library. It would have been a much cheaper venue than
Trevor Chute's Plaza. That, in turn, was the inspiration for my brothers
and sisters to stage our entertainments in our back-house for the local
Church St children during the Summer holiday months when the remaining
sods of turf in the building were used as seats and concrete wooden
shuttering from my father's workshop was fashioned as a stage. We wrote
the scripts ourselves; but the quality of the writings was not up to the
standards of our illustrious predecessors!

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