Memories of a trip to Mallow, County Cork, 1979
A letter from Australia

Pete Jackson - Former Thelwall Fool

This was a nine day trip that, due to a severe bout of alcoholic poisoning, I can remember only the first two days of.

There were some good stories from that trip and most of them involved a leprechaun named Jimmy Bowen, who ran the dry cleaners shop in Mallow. Ernie Whalley and "Grog" (John Gregson), Groper and, I think, Jeremy were staying with Jimmy and Kit. By about Wednesday they were coming and going via the bedroom window because every time they saw Jimmy he got them plastered on Paddy Irish Whiskey and Poteen (the illicit Irish rocket fuel). I was pretty much in the same boat. The people I was staying with (Tommy and Nora Wolffe and their four children aged between 18 years and 18 months) kept me “less than sober” all the time. I would be served a half pint glass of poteen with every meal (breakfast included) and a half pint every time you left the house.

The Wolffe household was a wonderful place. It was the only house I've ever been in where the milkman delivered the milk directly to the fridge everyday and the breadman delivered to the bread bin and so on. Nora made the best cup of tea I've ever had (and served a mean glass of poteen with it).

The main events were held in the Central Hotel (the posh hotel in town) and we were booked to appear on the Tuesday evening at 10.00pm. The boys decided that we'd have an afternoon session in the bar (can't remember the name of the bar) but Steve "Owen" Burgess, Chris Parkinson (now of House Band fame) Johnny "guitar" Gregson and many others kept the locals entertained. .As is customary in Ireland, the Guinness flowed freely.

By late afternoon/early evening the boys were well oiled, so it’s home to get ready for the evening performance. Home for some meant going to the Bowen or the Wolffe households. For me and Jim Berry that meant a visit to both, as the Wolffes had planned to visit the Bowens on the way to the Central Hotel. So, I have my half pint of Poteen with my evening meal and another because we are leaving the house. When we arrive at the Bowens, Jimmy welcomes us with more Poteen (2 or 3 more) and Paddy Irish Whiskey. Jimmy's party trick is to jump a bar stool from a stationary position, quite a feat if you’re 4ft nothing. Of course, there are Morris men who, full of drink, can do this - Groper was, to say the least, embarrassing.

So, after more Poteen (because you’re leaving the house) we head for the Central Hotel. It's nearly 10 o'clock (official start time) but as everyone knows by now, you have a least two hours to get there before it starts (except Gordon).

According to the Bowens, to get to the Central Hotel you have to go past Fitzpatrick’s bar. So after three or four pints in Fitzpatrick’s we arrive at the Central Hotel, just as the Morris men have started.

For the following morning, Jimmy Bowen had organised a bus to take the side to Blarney Castle, about 25 miles away. I missed the bus due to another bout of alcoholic poisoning but the Wolffes being the wonderful people they are, and following a breakfast of bacon and eggs, tea and Poteen, they drove me to Blarney to meet up with the side. Upon arrival I was immediately set upon by most of the side but particularly Gordon Gilmore and Rob Pracy who,unusually, were full of praise for my fooling performance of the previous evening. I had to ask what had particularly impressed them and what had I done because the truth of the matter is, I remember arriving and realising that we were late but from there the evening (and most of the rest of the time in Mallow ) is a complete blank.

I'm told that a wonderful time was had by all.

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Last updated 16 April 1998