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Stories of Comedy

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ARNY O'REIRDON was a fisherman of Kinsale, and a heartier fellow never hauled a net nor cast a line into deep water: indeed Barny, independently of being a merry boy among his companions, a lover of good fun and good whiskey, was looked up to, rather, by his brother fishermen, as an intelligent fellow, and few boats brought more fish to market than Barny O'Reirdon's; his opinion on certain points in the craft was considered law, and in short, in his own little community, Barny was what is commonly called a leading man. Now your leading man is always jealous in an inverse ratio to the sphere of his influence, and the leader of a nation is less incensed at a rival's triumph than the great man of a village. If we pursue this descending scale, what a desperately jealous person the oracle of oyster-dredges and cockle-women must be! Such was Barny O'Reirdon.

Seated one night at a public house, the common resort of Barny and other marine curiosities, our hero got entangled in debate with what he called a strange sail,—that is to say, a man he had never met before, and whom he was inclined to treat rather magisterially upon nautical subjects; at the same time the stranger was equally inclined to assume the high hand over him, till at last the new-comer made a regular outbreak by exclaiming, "Ah, tare-and-ouns, lave aff your balderdash, Mr. O'Reirdon, by the powdhers o' war it's enough, so it is, to make a dog bate his father, to hear you goin' an as if you war Curlumberus or Sir Crustyphiz Wran, when ivery one knows the divil a farther you iver war nor ketchin crabs or drudgen oysters."

"Who towld you that, my Watherford Wondher?" rejoined Barny; "what the dickens do you know about sayfarin' farther nor fishin' for sprats in a bowl wid your grandmother?"

"O, baithershin," says the stranger.

"And who made you so bowld with my name?" demanded O'Reirdon.

"No matther for that," said the stranger; "but if you'd like for to know, shure it's your own cousin Molly Mullins knows me well, and maybe I don't know you and yours as well as the mother that bore you, aye, in throth; and sure I know the very thoughts o' you as well as if I was inside o' you, Barny O'Reirdon."

"By my sowl thin, you know betther thoughts than your own, Mr. Whippersnapper, if that's the name you go by."

"No, it's not the name I go by; I've as good a name as your own, Mr. O'Reirdon, for want of a betther, and that's O'Sullivan."

"Throth there's more than there's good o' them," said Barny.

"Good or bad, I'm a cousin o' your own twice removed by the mother's side."

"And is it the Widda O'Sullivan's boy you'd be that left this come Candlemas four years?"

"The same."

"Throth thin you might know better manners to your eldhers, though I'm glad to see you, anyhow, agin; but a little thravellin' puts us beyant ourselves sometimes," said Barny, rather contemptuously.

"Throth I nivir bragged out o' myself yit, and it's what I say, that a man that's only fishin' aff the land all his life has no business to compare in the regard o' thracthericks wid a man that has sailed to Fingal."

This silenced any further argument on Barny's part....