Hallow Eve, the night when resurrected spirits roamed the earth, was, then as it is now an eerie festival designed for robust enjoyment.
In our area we assisted the unquiet spirits by spiriting away neighbours goods and chattels, by removing easily-hung gates and depositing them in the nearest stream, and by exchanging decorative potted plants and garden furniture between next-door neighbours, a thing certain to rouse an unspoken jealousy and antipathy that simmered just below the surface anyway. You’d think they’d know with the night that was in it who was to blame but it wasn’t always so.
But the only tricks worth their salt were those that combined the maximum of guile with the minimum of real damage. Yet we never aspired to the real classic perpetrated upon the old farmer – who shall remain anonymous – who was fond of a drink.
Joe the Ass [he still drove a donkey and cart long after his neighbours – and the world – had moved on] was well-liked on account of the fact that his was one of the last ceildhe-houses in the area. As well as open entertainment to all this meant that the door key was left handy under a nearby stone.
This Hallow Eve Joe with his donkey and cart was waylaid on his way home from the market by a few of his cronies – it didn’t take a lot – and spent longer than he intended in his local hostelry. The donkey was well-used to such a thing and tired of waiting, would often head for home itself, drawing its burden behind it. On this occasion the local youths intervened before it could happen. They led the donkey and cart away.
Back at Joe’s house, the key was used to gain admittance. Then the donkey was unyoked. The cart was unloaded, then tipped on its edge so that it would fit through the wide front door. In Joe’s kitchen the cart was righted and re-loaded. Finally the ass was led in and yoked once again to the cart. The house was locked and the key returned to its resting place under the stone.
Finally the lads withdrew behind a nearby wall to enjoy a few cigarettes until Joe would finally return home and try to figure out how the ass, complete with loaded cart, had manoeuvred its way into the locked house and through to the kitchen.
Joe was well and truly ‘gunked!’