John Kelleher Better Known As Jack The Mule

He worked for farmers and for town people shlauned peat for winter fuel
The mighty man John Kelleher better known as Jack The Mule
One of Duhallow’s best workmen on his day
Though his working efforts seldom matched by pay

A tall broad shouldered man he was as strong as two
Without much effort the hardest work he could do
Yet to himself he was not a good friend
Most of his hard earned wages on alcohol he did spend

That he was not one to mess with was obviously quite clear
The mighty Jack he was a man to fear
He never once was beaten in a brawl
And he left many a big Duhallow bully feeling small

Not known to have children he never had a wife
A rugged man who led a rugged life
An outdoor fellow he often slept rough
On himself he was one who made life tough

On the first of March a cold and wintry day
The sunless sky was overcast and gray
On a field by Clara as Daithi Dowling and his son climbed on the higher ground
The lifeless body of a man they found

Some things in life are hard to understand
John Kelleher had died at his own hand
By Clara Mountain his life he choose to end
To himself he was never a good friend

He was not a bad man and of him one can say
That to help people he often went out of his way
To die of old age not in his destiny
One like him in Millstreet never more to see.

“John Kelleher Better Known As Jack The Mule” is by Francis Duggan



(added Jan 29 2018)

A Duhallow Legend

Millstreet’s greatest all round worker when in his life’s prime
Though this is going back many decades in time
But oh to himself he was so very cruel
The man known to many as Jack The Mule

In Cahirdowney from Millstreet Town not far away
As John Kelleher he first looked on the lamp of day
His dad owned a mule then is how his nickname came about
And that he was a mighty man he never left anyone in doubt

One who never had children or never had a wife
He drank hard and worked hard and lived a rough life
A fellow who did earn his every pay
And nothing easy in life ever did come his way

March had arrived in Duhallow with a blustery chill
And the late Daithi Dowling out walking with his son in a field by Clara Hill
The lifeless body of John Kelleher found
He had chosen to end his life on the higher ground

On the day of the horse fair in the Town of Millstreet
Where the people who buy and sell horses does meet
Where John Kelleher in the pubs of dark guinness often enjoyed his fill
Instead of going to the fair he choose to die by Clara Hill

Arguably in his prime Duhallow’s all round greatest working man
A brave and strong fellow who ended his own life span
He was quite a man of him one can say
And not many like him in Duhallow today.

by Francis Duggan

3 thoughts on “John Kelleher Better Known As Jack The Mule”

  1. This is a very sad story/poem. It reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s line:
    “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” When did this happen? Is it recent or many years ago? Thank you for reminding us of the fact that many people in our midst have sad and hurting lives such as John Kelleher had.

  2. Francis you brought back happy childhood memories to me He worked for my Father Fintan Kiely what a mighty worker he was I really liked him May he rest in peace.

  3. My grandfather Jeremiah Kelleher was from Mill street (left for NZ 1920) and his father and son was John. I know no Kellehers remain but great to heritage remembered. Do we know the era of this man?

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