The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #14602   Message #3696162
Posted By: Jim Carroll
23-Mar-15 - 11:08 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Daniel O'Connell and His Steam Engine
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Daniel O'Connell and His Steam Engine
O' Connell was the subject of many dozens of tales - Irish folklorist Ríonach Uí Ógáin devoted a book to Him and his place in the Irish Tradition (Immortal Dan).
We recorded several from Irish Travellers in London, but this was one we got from a local man, Patrick Lynch of Mountscott, Mullagh, County Clare.
Jim Carroll


Patrick Lynch;
Mount Scott; 22 July 2003.
In O'Connell's time in Dublin, there lived a woman by the name of Biddy Moriarty who owned a huckster's stall in one of the quays almost opposite the Four Courts.
She was a virago of the worst order; very able with her fists, but even more formidable with her tongue. From one end of Dublin to the other she was notorious for her powers of abuse, and indeed, even in the provinces some of Mrs. Moriarty's language had passed into currency. The Dictionary of Dublin slang had been considerably enlarged by her and her voluble impudence had almost become proverbial.
Now some of O'Connell's friends decided that O'Connell could beat her at the use of her own weapons. Of this however, O'Connell was not too sure, as he had listened once or twice to a few minor specimens of her Billingsgate. It was mooted once where the young Kerry barrister could encounter her, and some of the company, rather too freely, ridiculed the idea of O'Connell being able for the famous Madam Moriarty.
Now O'Connell never liked to be made little of, so then and there he professed himself ready for the encounter, and he even backed himself in the match. Bets were offered and taken and it was decided that the contest should take place at once. So the party immediately adjourned to the huckster's stall, and there was the woman herself superintending the sale of some small ware, a party of loungers and ragged idlers from about, because, by now, Biddy, in her own way, was one of the sights of Dublin
O'Connell began the attack.
"How much do you want for the walking stick Mrs. erm - erm – erm – erm - what's-your-name?"
"Morairty is the name sir, and a fine one it is; have you anything to say agin it? It's one and sixpence for th'ould walking stick and, throw up sure, 'tis as cheap as dirt" (?)
"One and sixpence for an old walking stick; whew – why you're nothing short of an impostor to go charging eighteen pence for an ould stick that cost you tuppence".
"Tuppence; tuppence your grandmother; are you saying 'tis cheating the people I am; impostor yourself".
"Oh, I object", says O'Connell, "as I am a gentleman".
"Gentleman; hee –hee, gentleman, gentleman", says Biddy, "the likes of you a gentleman; why you potato-faced pippin-sneezer; when did a Madagascar monkey like you ever pick up enough common, Christian decency to lose your old Kerry brogue?"
"Easy now, easy now", says O'Connell, in imperturbable good humour, "don't go choking yourself on such fine words, you whiskey drinking old parallelogram".
"What's that you called me, you murdering villain", roared Biddy.
"I called you", says O'Connell, "a parallelogram, and a Dublin judge and jury will swear 'tis no libel".
"Oh hanam 'on Diabhal*, oh holy St Bridget, that an honest woman like me should stand here and be called one of them parally – parally – parally bellygrums to her face; I'm none of your parally bellygrums, you rascally gallows-bird; you cowardly, sneaking, plate-licking blaggard".
"Oh no", says O'Connell, "and I suppose you'll deny you keep a hypotenuse in your house".
"'Tis a lie for you", says Biddy, "I never heard such a thing".
"But sure", says O'Connell, "all your neighbours know, not only do you keep a hypotenuse, but you have two diameters locked up in your garret and you take them out for a walk every Sunday".
"Oh, by all the saints, you hear that for talk, from one who claims to be a gentleman. Well, the divil fly away with you, you mitcher from Munster, and make celery sauce of your rotten limbs, you mealy mouthed tub-o-guts".
"Arrah; you can't deny the charge", says O'Connell, "you hapless old heptagon".
"Why, you nasty little tinker's apprentice", says Biddy, "If you don't mind your mouth I'll – I'll – I'll – I'll…."
But here, here boys she gasped for breath, unable to hawk up any more words. But O'Connell carried on the attack.
"While I have a tongue in my head I'll abuse you, you most inimitable poritory; look at her boys; there she stands; a convicted perpendicular in petticoats, and there's contamination in her circumference and she trembles with guilt right down to the extremities of her corollaries; ah, you're found out, you rectilinial antecedent of an equiangular old hag; you porter-swiping similitude of a bisection of a vortex".
Poor old Biddy was dumbfounded, and she only reached behind her on the shelf and took hold of a skillet and took aim at O'Connell's head.
So O'Connell beat a hasty retreat. But it was agreed by one and all that O'Connell had won the battle of Billingsgate.

*Hanam 'on Diabhal – Your soul to the Devil.

Daniel O'Connell, (1775-1847), political leader and leading opponent of The Act of Union, was renowned for his quick wit and his debating abilities and is said to have featured in the Irish oral tradition more than any other historical figure.
An excellent and extremely entertaining account of the folklore surrounding him is to be found in Ríonach Uí Ogáin's 'Immortal Dan' (Geography Publications, Dublin).