John B Keanes Bar Listowel
By: Cormac MacConnell @IrishCentral

There are many Irish pub landlords in London. Some of them are local legends.

I fancy it was one of them, maybe a native of Kerry, who placed a very wry chalked sign on the pavement outside his premises on the day of Donald Trump's unexpected victory. The sign read AMERICANS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT! Sharply pointed wit there for sure.

It reminded me of a similarly chalked sign outside the door of John B. Keane's fabled pub in Listowel last year on the day that the formidable Mary Keane, the playwright's widow, was being buried at a huge funeral in the Kerry town. That sign read simply MARY IS OFF TODAY. 

It was totally in keeping with the flair and spirit of what I consider to be the most enjoyably interesting pub in all Ireland. If you have never been there on an Irish holiday make it your business to savour its charms and quirks next time. You will not be sorry you did so.

The flavour of the house, for example, was sharply and uniquely defined for me a couple of weeks ago when I was present with my pint for a unique bit of craic involving my own brother Mickie MacConnell the songwriter.

He is a regular entertainer here and, without being nepotistic (in fact I'm a bit envious of his arts) he is a gifted little bastard altogether.

I suppose his best-known song is “Only Our Rivers Run Free,” but he has crafted many more including “The Tinkerman's Daughter,” “The Redheaded Ann,” my own favourite “The Bluebird's Broken Wing” tribute to Judy Garland, and many more.

It is also a searingly truthful reality that Mickie, the youngest of the clan, was always effortlessly the best journalist amongst us.

Anyway, to catch the essence of the last night I was in Keane’s I have to explain that here in Ireland there are two competing German discount stores named Lidl and Aldi. They sell a wide range of goods at knockdown prices and their stores are spreading like wildfire.

It is a reality that if you enter one of those stores you will invariably buy many more items than you intended. This is the foundation for Mickie's new offering, the “Lidl d' Aldi” ditty in which a husband is complaining bitterly about all the unnecessary goods he bought when he was shopping for his ill wife.

www.onegreatfamily.com

I nearly split my sides laughing when Mickie began singing it to a packed pub, because what did not happen but that Billy Keane, son of John B. And Mary, and now the landlord, had arranged with a team of rascals that, when Mickie mentioned the many items purchased by the husband, they were instantly carried into the pub and placed in a pile before him.

The items, I swear, ranged from an inflatable rubber boat to electric hedge shears, pounds of sausages and black pudding, heavy working boots, and to cap it all, a doghouse and a dog! Every single item on the list was produced as we nearly fell off our stools with glee.

You can't buy that class of craic, not even in Lidl or Aldi. Mighty. I have been told there is a clip on Facebook which catches it all. Have not accessed that yet.

Something else worth passing on.  It has long been my personal view that Billy Keane, the successor to the house, is actually a better writer than his famous father ever was.

It is true that John B. when he began producing his plays long ago now, was mining a lode which had not been worked, really, until Sive exploded on to the national stage.

Those niches have long since been exploited by many, but Billy Keane's columns in The Irish Independent and in The Kerryman newspaper down the years, for my money, are at the very least on a par with the best of his father's articles and often better.

Ye can judge for yourselves because Mickie told me at the end of the evening that the pick of those articles are being published about now in book form.

The book is The Best of Billy Keane, widely available in good bookstores, and ye should all lay hands on it soonest after recovering from the merriment created by that Facebook clip of Mickie MacConnell singing his “Lidl d' Aldi” song as the pile of unwanted goods built up on the pub floor before him with every word.

I'm heading back down next week. I wonder what rascality and craic will occur that night!



Have You Found What You Are Looking For?
SBI!