Whoever will drink, ’tis Domhnall will pay.
Note: Not that most people would ever need encouragement to go to the pub, but this week’s seanfhocal is just that. The drink tastes sweeter when someone else pays. Domhnall could be anybody who is tricked or cajoled into picking up the tab. Perhaps, the most famous Domhnall is Anthony Raftery (Antoine Ó Reachtabhra), the itinerent, blind poet who lived from 1739 to 1819. The legend is that he was tricked into picking up the tab in a pub in Loughrea (Baile Locha Riach), a town in the middle of County Galway. Never play a joke on a bard; Raftery immortalized the tale in a comic poem called “Baile Locha Riach”:
Chas Dia aon scilling amháin chugam
agus shíl mé go raibh mo dhíol ann,
Nuair a shíl mé nár ghlaos ach dhá chárta
bhí ag Conúr im aghaidh trí is bonn.
Fear an Tábhairne
“Is é an dlí a bhíos againn ins an áit seo
an reicneáil nach n-íoctar in am,
Má éiríonn na daoine ón gclá —
An fear deiridh bheith síos leis an leann.”
With a shilling that the good God provided
I thought I’d enough and to spare,
What a shock then when Conor confided
for two quarts three-and-six I must pay.
“The rule that in this house we favour
any reckoning not paid as they sup,
Whoever is last at the table —
for all that they drank must pay up.”
Blind Raftery; Poems Selected and Translated by Chriostoir O’Flynn, Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 1998, pp. 88-89.
Raftery goes on to curse the publican for taking his hat in payment. According to the legend, Raftery was later told of the joke. His hat and his shilling were returned. After a good laugh was had by all, he was given another drop or two on the house. However, Raftery had the last laugh, omitting this part of the story from his poem.