Durty Nelly’s ∼ One of the Oldest Pubs in the Republic of Ireland

A wonderful old tale of whisky and intrigue at this gorgeous pub in Bunratty, Reblic of Ireland! (please note this old story contains its original spellings)

Who was Durty Nelly?

Many, many moons ago, in the misty past of Cratloe’s rolling countryside, there lived a buxom lady, tall in stature, but shapely and appealing to all.  She was known simply as Durty Nelly, a name that puzzled all who had the good fortune to meet her – but soon became apparent!

Times were hard in Ireland but the wily Nelly always found a way to make ends meet. She was keeper of the toll-bridge over the river Owengarney, which flowed outside her window on its way to join the Shannon.

All visitors who sought to cross the bridge had to pay their dues to Nelly – those who could not pay in cash paid in kind with the presentation of a chicken, a few eggs, a piece of home-cured bacon or even, legend has it, a bit of ‘comfort’ for the lady herself.

Durty Nelly was a woman of considerable charm, known to the virile men of the day from Galway to Cork, Dublin to Limerick. Nelly’s hospitality to the many travellers coming across the bridge gained her a place in many a man’s fond memories, and the legend of Nelly has been handed down through the centuries.

Durty Nelly was also renowned for her little shebeen – a special corner of the house overlooking the river where she kept a jar of whiskey, to warm the bellies of the tired and exhausted journeymen.

There came an unfortunate night when one of those travellers, a rogue from Kilrush, crept in during the night and stole poor Nelly’s savings, all the gold coins she had collected at the bridge.

The following evening, she went to bed broken-hearted and after a night of fitful sleep, awoke with a start. Occupying her mind was a clear impression of a new recipe for whiskey.  She set to work straight away, filling four of her best earthen jars from her distillery in the woods.  As she labored over the concoction, she became more and more convinced that there was magic to this brew.

Only a short time later, she came across an old Irish Wolfhound, on his last legs outside her front door. He was weak and feeble and was not long for this world. Nelly poured a drop of the poteen (her home-made whiskey) from one of the urns and carefully rubbed it into the dog’s muscles.  She left the dog to rest and took her place on the curved wall where she waited daily for the tolls. In the heat of the midday sun, she started to drop off.
Two or three hours later, she was disturbed from her slumber by a warm wet feeling in her palm: with a shock, she realised it was the Wolfhound, licking her hand.  He raced across the bridge exuberantly, showing no sign of his previous malaise.

This extraordinary occurrence had not gone unnoticed by Nelly’s neighbours in Bunratty, and news quickly spread that she had a special potion, one which would bring the gift of new life.

And so they came in droves from all over the country seeking “the cure” for that lame horse, the sick piglet, the slowing greyhound or the muscle-bound athlete.  Each visitor left with a renewed vigor, cured of all ills.

The Little House by the bridge grew with the increased trade and became a landmark in Munster for the high quality of its refreshment – both food and drink.

One day, a young woman from Rineanna (now Shannon International Airport) came to see Durty Nelly with a broken heart. She was married for three years but sadly remained childless.  She confessed to Nelly that she believed it was because her husband lacked any warmth in his attentions. She wanted to try the cure on him, to see if he too could be brought ‘back to life’ within their marriage.

From the first sip of the smooth liquid, the woman’s husband was a changed man. His wife could never complain of his powers as a loving husband. His virility thrilled her and resulted in the birth of 3 sons and 2 daughters within six years – and she still retained her beauty in body and charm.

News of the miracle brew spread far and wide across Ireland and Durty Nelly’s ‘cure’ found a place on the shelves of her hostelry as the drink to cure all ills – with a tot of the powerful drink, men became virile and strong, thrilling their women and gaining triumph in all battles.

Durty Nelly had discovered one of Ireland’s best-loved secret brews, famed for its purity, strength and health-giving powers – poteen.

Times have changed and poteen is no longer a legal drink in Ireland. Because of its unusual power and danger if consumed to excess, it had to be ‘officially’ outlawed.
But to this day, it is distilled among the hills and valleys of the land. It continues to relieve pain and restore new life – there is a many a champion hurler, footballer, athlete – and even racehorse – whose rubdown is well-laced with poteen.

Down through the years, the house of Durty Nelly has thrived. It has brought refreshment and comfort to many a weary traveller and it has remained the noted gateway to the stunningly beautiful West of Ireland.  Men and women who saw plantations, penal laws, great hunger and countless battles over time have traversed this famous bridge and stopped for a quick drop in the comforts of this famous tavern.

Durty Nelly’s hospitality, warmth and generosity of spirit have remained in this most welcoming of public houses for centuries since her death.  When you stop by some afternoon, think of her and toast her memory with a tot of the ‘good stuff.’

Nelly’s Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your field sand until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Nelly’s Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your field sand until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

 

Click to find out more about Durty Nellys.

The Lovely Town of Ennis, Co. Clare ∼ The Perfect Fictional Location?

“Fun, relaxation, good humour and decent human friendliness await all visitors to Ennis,” declares the town’s tourist website – and indeed this true, if my recent visit to this very charming town in Co. Clare, was anything to go by. I have never been to anywhere quiet like this and my excitement at my visit was definitely increased as I had used Ennis as the location of one of my noir short stories, Every Move You Make, the title of which was taken from that classic stalker song by Police.

It can feel a little strange to mix fact with fiction in this way, but I chose Ennis because it is has so much natural charm and old fashioned hospitality that it seemed ideal for my noir story, which is based in several Ennis locations – some of which are identifiable from these photos. It might be fun to try and spot them; I will add the link to my story below.

Getting back to the real town of Ennis, which is situated on the River Fergus, just north of where it enters the Shannon Estuary. The town lies north west of Limerick and south of Galway and is also only a short drive away from Shannon Airport, which gives access to many flights to the US – and there are often many American accents to be heard when out and about in the town!

The Irish name for the town is short for Inis Cluain Ramh Fhada; meaning “island of the long rowing meadow” which is quite beautiful don’t you think?

My short featuring characters Finola and Declan is the first in a series of Ennis adventures, with the second already written (but without a home as yet) and the third in construction. If you enjoy a noir tale or a stalker story why not check it out the first story here?  pulpmetalmagazine.com/…/every-move-you-make-by-sonia-kilvington

“It’s difficult,” she muttered nervously.

“In your own good time,” replied Declan as graciously as he could on a very dull Monday morning, to an equally dull looking client, who was already testing his patience.

Finola felt out of place in this tired, dreary office. She had already tried to craft a reasonable explanation for her visit. One that wouldn’t sound too ridiculous or paranoid, although from his weary, world-worn expression; she imagined that Declan had already heard many stories which were much more harrowing than her own. Still avoiding his gaze, her eyes strayed to a fragment of loose wallpaper hanging off the moldy smelling wall, next to her chair. She fought a strong urge to grasp the scrap between her fingers and peel it away, slowly, slowly, until it rested in the palm of her hand.

Declan cleared his throat purposefully, in a manner which implied that his time was not only valuable, but highly billable, too,

“So, what is it that you think I can I do for you?” he asked directlyRead more

A Blustery Day at The Cliffs of Moher∼ Co. Clare, Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher are a spectacular sight; their beauty is legendary and has been captured in many big budget movies such as Harry Potter, Princess Bride and Ryan’s Daughter. If they look a little familiar perhaps you already recognize them from that wonderful TV series, Father Ted? (more tea anyone?)

The Cliffs attract over a million visitors a year, which is not surprising as they are really awe inspiring. There are some excellent cliff walks which extend beyond the bounds of the visitors centre, and on days when the weather is wild, they are definitely for the more experienced and confident explorer. Even at the full height of the cliff tops there are moments when huge gusts of wind, literally steal your breath away!

From the cliff edge a wonderful variety of birdlife can be spotted, including Puffins, which nest on Goat Island between April and July. Kittiwakes often nest on the perilous ledges, and a pair of Peregrine Falcons can be seen swooping and diving as they protect their territory under the tower.

The weather can be unpredictable and dramatic on the cliff edge, and so a visit inside the visitors centre may offer a welcome respite from the lashing wind and rain, which can start up quite suddenly. The centre is built into the rock face and has successfully integrated the natural environment into its design. Inside the centre there is a film area showing two exciting short movies, my favourite being ”The Ledge Experience,” which includes some stunning aerial photography.

We were very fortunate in our visit as the weather was blustery, but the rain held off, and apparently it had been much worse in the previous few days. Considering it was late October, it was a wonderful day out, and if, like me, you enjoy views of an exceptionally dramatic coastline and a bit of unpredictable weather, the cliffs of Moher are not to be missed on a visit to the Republic of Ireland.

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