• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 05

Letter from Leinster

Dear sir – I write with news from fair Kilkenny,
where, I am pleased to say, there have been many
decent reforms in these indecent times.
Alas, the peasantry sustain those games
I latterly reported: games with corpses
of pagan derivation. These are orgies
of foolishness revolting to all notions
of delicacy – and these “recreations”
thrive among the superstitious despite
the Church’s bold campaign to stamp them out.
Resisting all sense, men don their cracked clothes
and flaunt their rosaries of spare potatoes.
They “Make the Ship” and blindly “Hold the Light”.
They “Hunt the Slipper”, drink and dance about.
The worst of it, in my considered view,
is something anti-Christian they do
to speechless, breathless, only just released
remains of folk whom they all knew. No rest
for such poor things! Their tongues must wag, their teeth –
though they have wagged and chattered long enough –
must grace these jolly scenes. And so the hearths
of deathly chambers resound with such mirth
as may be had from sticks for silly sports –
with tricks and bouts of madness in mock-courts,
bearing witness to which are these bared grins . . . .
But now I must break off. I go at once
to civilize proceedings. Sir, I am
your humble servant still – John G. A. Prim.