Dinny of Dennisvale
Dinny was not a bad old sort. Dinny kept the Shamrock Arms at Dennisvale, and many a down-and-out found a knife-and-fork and a plateful of wholesome tucker there, for Dinny was never known to refuse any “desarvin’ appale.” He was a little, merry-eyed, soft-speaking fellow, all heart, but never a collar. Yet oh! what a great fund of humour did Dinny possess. He never quarrelled, and never argued. “What you say you say yourself,” was Dinny’s favourite rejoinder.
I remember that once a chap popped lively into the bar and called for a beer.
“It’s a lovely day, Dinny!”
“It is, me man, a glorious day.” Hardly had that first one made his exit when another entered and remarked, “Going to have a change?”
“I believe we will, me man. It’s a rotten day!”
Such was Dinny’s manner of obliging endorsement.
On one occasion a chap brought his draught horse for the purpose of allowing Dinny to look him over. “I’ve got him outside, Dinny. Come and have a look.”
Dinny consented, and went out to inspect.
“Walk him up the road and trot him down a bit.”
The command was obeyed.
“He’s a fine active joker, that! He carries plenty of muscle an’ bone. He have some weight to grip a load. I loike the devilopment of his gullet, He have a roomy chest, and a foine windpipe, and he’s well-ribbed up You’ll bate everything in the show-ring wid him!”
While Dinny passed this eulogy, six or seven horsy men had gathered round, and the owner of the equine judged by Dinny was so pleased that he extended the invitation to “Come and have a drink to wet the neddy!” The crowd accepted. Subsequently, after the departure of the champion and his master, somebody casually remarked: “That horse will never furnish up for a show-ring, Dinny.”
“Av coorse not!” said Dinny. “That’s my opinion. I wouldn’t give two bob for the moke!”
“Come and have a drink!” said someone. But somebody else said, “No; have one with me.”
One evening, while the red log was aglow, there strolled into Dinny’s welcome parlour, travellers and locals to pass the evening. On the rug in front of the fire was a dog, peacefully snoozing, snuggled on the mat. Dinny joined the throng.
“Good avenin’. I’m plased to see ye all comfortable. Have ye plenty of fire? I’ll be afther givin’ ye more logs if you say the wor-rd.”
The crowd was silent a minute, gazing at the glowing embers. Somebody told a funny yarn and everyone laughed. Then the dog sighed.
“That’s a nice dog. Who owns the dog? I think it be a cooley,” said Dinny. “He have a nice coat. Do you own him, Mr. Johnson?”
“He have an intelligent face, and a nice soft silky coat. Do you own him, Mr. Wilson?”
“No,” said Wilson.
“He’s an intelligent-looking dog, Do you own him, Mr. Jackson?”
“Does anybody own him here? He’s a fine dog.”
Nobody there owned him, Dinny was assured.
Dinny rose in his wrath, putting the boot well in. Then, as the dog flew through the door, he said, “What the divil is the mongrel lyin’ on my rug for, kapin’ the heat of the fire from gettin’ to the gintlemen’s feet?”
One day Jingle Jones, the local racing authority and accepted head of the town, hopped into the bar of the Shamrock, seeking a favour of Dinny. “I’ve a picture here, Dinny. I want to hang it up in your bar.”
“What is it?” asked Dinny.
“A racing poster I brought from Victoria to advertise our annual meeting.”
“Magnificent picture!” said Dinny, as he inspected the sheet. “I’ve never seen annything to bate it. It must be the wor-rk of a great artist. Look at all the colours! What wonderful printin’ machinery they do be havin’ to put it all together. And you bought it in Wictoria?”
“I did,” said Jingle Jones.
“Ah! what inth’rest you take in our local sport! That picture shows what wonderful taste you have, now! Its proud I am to have such a picture in th’bar. ’Tis an ornimint more than an advertisement. Have a drink?”
“No,” said Jones, “it’s my shout. Where will we hang it?”
Dinny thought, and said, “Well, all the time we’ve been talkin’ I’ve been thinkin’ where the very best place would be to hang th’ picture so that win the fut hits the doorstep it wud sthrike the eye. I think,” he said, pointing, “we’ll put it over there.”
The corks were cut, the picture was hung, another drink was swallowed, and the sport left.
Later in the day the advance agent of Ashton’s Circus struck the town, and came to the Shamrock with an armful of posters depicting “wild life in Africa,” grinning lions and roaring apes, and such like, which the countryman has so often seen adorning the front of the local smithy’s shop.
“Good morning,” said Dinny. “Ashton’s Circus back again?”
“Comin,” said the advance-agent.
“Well” ye’ll get a great wilcome here. There’s no name like the Ashtons. I’ve known it for many years Jimmy Ashton is better known among all classes than Georgy Reid.”
“I want to hang a couple of bills in your bar.”
“You’re wilcome,” said Danny. “Hang as manny as yer loike.”
“Where will I hang them?” asked the agent. “That’s a fine place where you’ve got the racing picture.”
“It is,” replied Danny. “It is the best shpot in the house. Take that wan down, hang it on th’ other side o’ the bar-r, and put yours in its place.”
The exchange was duty made, and the advance-agent effected his exit.
He had hardly been gone five minutes when Jingle Jones returned.
“Hullo, Dinny, Where’s the poster?”
“There it is on the wall behind you.”
“What did you shift it for?”
“Well,” explained Dinny, ‘I’ve discovered a glarin’ blundher in that picture.”
“Yes?” said Jingle. “What is it?”
“There’s nothin’ th’ matther wid its giniral magnificence,” said Danny, “but, you see, it’s a Milbourne pictur’ and th’ horses are runnin’ opposite directions to what they run in New South. So I tuk it off of that wall and put it on the other side to set the horses runnin’ the right way round.”
Dinny’s power of persuasion was effective — and they had another drink.
Jack Moses, Beyond the City Gates: Australian Story & Verse, Sydney: Austral Publishing Co., 1923, pages 98-101
Georgy Reid = Sir George Reid, New South Wales parliamentarian 1880-1901, federal parliamentarian 1901-1909, and the fourth Prime Minister of Australia (1904-1905)
moke = an inferior horse (originally, it was a term for a donkey)
neddy = slang term for a horse (e.g. to have “a flutter on the neddies” is to have a bet on a horse race)
New South = New South Wales
Vernacular spelling in the original text:
afther (after) [Irish]
av (of) [Irish]
avenin’ (evening) [Irish]
bate (beat) [Irish]
desarvin’ (deserving) [Irish]
devilopment (development) [Irish]
divil (devil) [Irish]
foine (fine) [Irish]
fut (foot) [Irish]
inth’rest (interest) [Irish]
kapin’ (keeping) [Irish]
loike (like) [Irish]
matther (matter) [Irish]
plased (pleased) [Irish]
shpot (spot) [Irish]
sthrike (strike) [Irish]
tuk (took) [Irish]
wid (with) [Irish]
wilcome (welcome) [Irish]
win (when) [Irish]
ye (you) [Irish; also archaic]