A Story Of Denny Penny Kelleher

The fields decked with wildflowers on that sunny Sunday
And the hawthorns were cloaked in their white blossoms of May
The countryside lush and green Nature in her Spring bloom
On either side of the by road between Kilnamartyra and Macroom

A huge crowd had assembled for the road bowling score
For to watch Denny Penny Kelleher of Millstreet from the road to Rathmore
In a winner take all bets take on Muskerry’s best
Both men in short shirt sleeves were prepared for the test

The Muskerry champion a strapping young man
In the prime of his life full of youthful elan
Gave his backers some confidence that he would beat
The great Denny who had pedaled his bike from Millstreet

Stocky Denny Penny his once brown hair then silver gray
Was clearly one who had known a far better day
Many present thought that to beat one more than twenty years his junior a bit much of him to ask
Though the ice cool Claraghatlea fellow undaunted by the task

But by three bowls of odds in a one sided score
Denny Penny had done what he had often done before
He had humbled one far younger in another great road bowling display
The old dog for the long road as some like to say

That evening in the Kilnamartyra Pub his fans lauded the Claraghatlea great
Denny Penny Kelleher who with them did celebrate
One who could drink all through the evening and remain on his feet
A legendary character the best of Millstreet

He left the Kilnamartyra pub just before sundown
And pedaled on his bike on the narrow road towards Millstreet Town
Into the freshening wind in the Spring moonlight
He reached his home in Claraghatlea after midnight

I tell you the story as it was told to me
Of a man who created his own history
A champion road bowler when in his life’s prime
Though that is going back many decades in time.

by Francis Duggan

Picture above is of a painting of Road Bowling – by Martin Driscoll (martindriscoll.com)

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