John McCullagh May 9, 2006
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Paddy Boyle of Tiffcrum, one-time known as a beggar-man, worked, while he was able ‘digging spuds’ for local farmers.

One time he was harvesting for Tam Dunne. This particular day Paddy failed to appear, as usual, at Tam’s for his breakfast. Not one to wait, Tam ate, then retrieved his spade from its hidey hole and began his own to dig the spuds.

From the sloping field where he worked Tam had a clear view across the valley, the intervening bog and the rise of the ridge of Garriba, to St Patrick’s Church beyond.

All of a sudden, he spied Paddy over in Garriba and him trying to run. Tam paused to watch. Paddy was pursued by a clatter of women. Tam could see the sunlight sparkle off the beads that decorated their head-dresses so he knew they were dressed for ‘an occasion’. Next Tam saw the swipe of a closed umbrella. Despite the long dresses that were restricting their movements, the women were gaining on Paddy. Paddy dodged down the path to Mary Shooin’s and disappeared into a scatter of whins. The following women intercepted him again and eventually he was caught. Out of the whins they oxtered the man up the road and into St Patrick’s Church.

When next Tam’s work was interrupted by the spilling out of the distant Church of the party, he noted they were led by a group of talkative women. The man stayed behind. As the women ascended the path to Mary Shooin’s, the trailing man lingered, then crossed the ditch and into the bog. Within minutes he retrieved his spade and soon joined Tam at the digging.

He explained that he was late starting and apologised. Tam answered,

‘Better late than never!’

By way of explanation, Paddy told Tam he had just been married this morning. A flabbergasted Tam offered his congratulations. Paddy cut him short!

‘I doubt I’m after making a bad connection’, he explained.

Tam tried to console Paddy and persuade him to rejoin the wedding festivities.

‘Ah, no!’ said Paddy. ‘I’d sooner dig spuds!’

And so he did, till nightfall.

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