Johnny Jack From Clara Or The Devil From Hell - Poem by Francis Duggan
A story from my childhood I often heard old timers tell
One that I remember as memory serves me well
Of Johnny Jack of Claramore two miles from Millstreet Town
To be a champion road bowler his great claim to renown.
On his way home from Macroom on horseback on a sunny sunday
The wildflowers were blooming in the prime of the May
Johnny Jack in his sixties then well past his life's prime
Had been retired from road bowling for quite a long time.
Two miles out of Macroom on the road to Millstreet
Two young bowl players with their backers he happened to meet
And though the old bloke on horseback they had not seen before
From their fathers they would have heard of the champ from Claramore.
He dismounted his horse to watch the bowlers throw
In the tightness of the scores the excitement did grow
The strapping young bowl players their backers impressed
Though old Johnny Jack on their ability his reservations expressed.
Johnny Jack's stated opinion to argument gave rise
One of the backers said to him you ought not to criticize
Whoever you are you are too old to hope to put to the test
The winner of this score one of Macroom's best.
The ageing man from Clara said a bet with you I will make
My horse and horse's saddle I am prepared to stake
On a score of bowls against your champion if that with you is okay
Since I do not have much money in my pockets today.
His bet was matched by their money and the score of bowls began
Between the ageing gray haired fellow from Clara and the stocky far younger man
A score of bowls that Johnny Jack by two bowls of odds won
He had humbled one young enough to be his grandson.
One of the onlookers quite amazed at the skill of the ageing road bowl player
Said please tell us who you are at least that much with us share
Your identity one can only guess since such to us you will not tell
You are either Johnny Jack from Clara or the Devil from Hell.
A story I recall from more than five decades ago
When I was a youngster of some ten years or so
Of Johnny Jack Murphy from Claramore a legend of his time
One of Ireland's best road bowlers when in his life's prime.
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