Hugh McCallion
Tom Clancy was an Irishman who very often drank;
In fact the neighbours christened him 'The Ballyrunion Tank.'
When he was on the razzle, morning, night or noon,
You'd find him in O'Reilly's Bar or 'Yankee Mick's' saloon.

His only source of funding was his uncle Mick Magee,
Who kindly died and left him a handsome legacy;
Five thousand pounds in total, but 'twas never Mick's intent,
That propagating alcohol was how it should be spent.

At any hour, day or night, Tom would drink your health,
And buy the drinks for everyone to celebrate his wealth.
He bought himself a fancy hat from Flynns of Mullingar;
He lost his love for cigarettes and smoked a big cigar.

But then, alas, one morning that boyo Tom awoke
And to his horror realised that he was stony broke.
He kicked his stetson round the room, he ranted and he cursed,
For he had upon himself a mighty awful thirst.

He ran to 'Yankee Mick's' saloon, a 'millionaire' of late,
And pleaded with the landlord to let him have 'the slate'.
But 'Yankee Mick' was mighty quick to tell him firmly 'No!'
Then Clancy smashed the place about and told him where to go.

From pub to pub he made his way in alcoholic scrounge,
But rumour had preceded him to every bar and lounge.
Fair weather friends had gripped his hand and helped him spend his dough,
But now that he was penniless, they didn't want to know.

To think that not so long ago he had five thousand smackers -
If he didn't get a gargle soon he surely would go crackers.
He tore his hair in deep despair then a vision came to him
Of a little house a mile from town, a hovel dark and grim.

Within that house there lived a man, a scoundrel far from civil,
And rumour was that late at night he entertained the divvle.
If Satan came to socialise, there surely would be beer
'Twas hardly likely such a rogue would be a Pioneer.*

*A member of a Total Abstainance Society

The townsfolk kept well out of sight and mongrels ran to hide,
As Clancy headed out of town with ever quickening stride.
And as the high road beckoned he hit it on the run,
To dissipate the mile between himself and Satan's son.

Although he'd been a local for thirty years or more,
This chap was seldom sighted beyond his cabin door.
But Tom had long forgotten the things some folks had said,
When he charged the door and entered where others feared to tread.

From out the gloom of the living room the rascal poked his snout,
And Clancy saw behind the door some cases labelled 'Stout'.
In his finest brogue he addressed the rogue, said he: 'Me fine oul man,
I'm desperate for a drop to drink, please help me if you can.'

Old Satan's mate brought out a crate said he: 'They come in twelves,
Such quality you seldom see and not on bar room shelves.'
The old man brought another lot said he: 'That's twenty four,
Just help yourself, it's on the house, and I have plenty more.'

While the old man meditated on a partnership so sinful,
That boyo Tom proceeded on his way towards a skinful.
Then Satan's friend related how to get some money quick,
'Abandon all your principles and flog your soul to Nick.'

The prospect of some ready cash suited Tom so well
That the old man sent a message to the gaffer down in hell;
And very soon old Lucifer was on his way to earth,
His wallet stuffed with five pound notes, to value Clancy's worth.

Satan was delighted and his eyes lit up with joy,
For this potential divvle was a fine broth of a boy.
The old man brought another case and watched with an evil grin
The antics of this new recruit to the devil's ranks of sin.

They started off to bargain at a level fifty quid,
But though 'The Tank' was sozzled he refused to take the bid.
Then each man spat upon his palm and slapped each other's hand,
Then signed and sealed the bargain for an even half a grand.

The divvle then departed back to his sooty cavern,
And Clancy made a bee-line for the nearest whiskey tavern.
His contract gave him just a month to booze and court the ladies,
Then Satan would return again to escort him to Hades.

For thirty days he lived it up and spent the divvle's lolly,
'Twas not until the final night he realised his folly.
His doom was sealed without a doubt and hell would be his fate,
With heavy heart he settled down, Nick's coming to await.

At twelve o'clock the divvle said, he'd call and take him down,
To where the evil doers burned far beneath the ground.
This awful thought made Clancy feel sorry for himself -
Then from the stormy darkness came a little Irish elf.

Said he: 'My boy I'm sorry that fate has played a trick,
And left you to the mercy of that rotten rascal Nick.
For you to go way down below that would indeed be tragic,
So I've come here to help you with my fairy magic.'

Alhough 'The Tank' had often heard about these little folk,
He'd always thought that they were just another Irish joke;
Yet here before his very eyes, and much to his delight,
Was one of them there little men to save him from his plight.

The fairy man held in his hand a little leather purse;
Said he: 'This is the very thing to break the divvle's curse.'
He held aloft his magic wand to cast the fairy spell,
That would enable Clancy to dodge the flames of hell.

Then unto Tom the elf man said: 'This should be very funny,
For when the divvle comes for you he won't have any money;
So if you tell him that you need a drink before you go,
He'll have to change himself into the necessary dough;

Then put him in this little purse, though he may rage and shout,
Just keep him there and don't you dare to let the rascal out.'
Now Clancy's mind was working fast, said he unto the elf:
'I cannot understand why he should have to change himself,

When all around there can be found a host of things that he
Could transfer into ready cash to buy a drink for me.'
'The divvle is the boss of hell,' the little man replied,
'He can alter into currency anything inside.

But earthly things he cannot change so rest assured he will
Exchange into the wherewithal with which to foot the bill.'
Scarcely had the little man departed through the door
When Clancy and the divvle were face to face once more.

Said Lucifer: 'The time has come for you to go to hell.'
Now was the time for 'Tom the Tank' to test the magic spell.
'I'm ready, Sir,' said Clancy, 'but first things must be first,
Before I start the journey I'll have to quench my thirst.

It's my last request please do your best to help me, Mr Nick;
A bottle of Dew* at twelve and six, that should do the trick.'
The divvle knew that Clancy could be an awkward cuss;
If he didn't get that bottle he sure would make a fuss.

*Tullamore Dew - Irish Malt Whiskey

He didn't want to fight him so perhaps 'twould be as well
To have him inebriated on the journey down to hell.
Suddenly in that little room there was a blinding flash
As Satan changed himself into the necessary cash;

And sure enough when Clancy looked there upon the ground,
Was the twelve-and-six he'd asked for, ten bob and half-a-crown.
Clancy placed the money in the purse and closed it tight,
And there and then old Lucifer had an awful fright.

He very quickly realised that he could not get out,
Or change again into himself so he began to shout.
Clancy was delighted and he fetched himself a chopper;
This was the end of Lucifer, he sure would come a cropper.

No more the rotten rascal would roam where shadows lurk,
To terrorise the lives of men and do his evil work!
As Clancy raised the hatchet he heard the divvle plead:
'Just set me free and you will be very rich indeed.

I'll never bother you again, 'tis gospel truth I speak,
And I promise on my oath to pay you fifty pounds a week.'
This very handsome offer made Clancy stop to think:
Just fancy having fifty quid to spend each week on drink!

The offer seemed too good to miss so, like a silly goat,
He opened up the little purse and removed the ten-bob note.
Again there was a blinding flash as Satan changed once more,
Into the divvle that he was and gave a mighty roar.

'Ha! Ha!' said he, 'That was, my boy, a most ingenious trick;
It takes a crafty fox indeed to out-manoeuvre Nick.
But now that I'm in charge again you'll have to come with me;
I only used the offer as a means of getting free.'

Clancy pleaded with him but all to no avail,
Then suddenly he realised Nick hadn't got a tail.
He had got one when he came in but now where it had been,
A little stump upon his rump was all that could be seen.

Now Clancy got to thinkin' like a mathematics scholar,
And figgered out that in the purse must still be half-a-dollar;
For Satan changed so quickly that the ten-bob note was all
That had been extricated before he let it fall.

When Satan came to realise his swisher wasn't there,
His look of jubilation changed into despair.
He tried to grab the little purse but, to his great dismay,
He couldn't get within a yard of where that leather lay.

The magic of the little elf had made it to repel
The evil touch of Lucifer, that scallywag from hell
Clancy sprang to action and grabbed the axe again,
And flayed the half-a-dollar with all his might and main.

The divvle roared in anguish and was a sorry sight,
As he tried his best to parley but Clancy roared delight;
Until at last the effort began to hurt his head,
So he stopped awhile and listened to what was being said.

'I know,' said Nick, 'when I am licked, you really did outwit me,
So I will bargain once again and if you will permit me,
The offer that I made before I'm now prepared to double
And never be to you again a source of any trouble.

I know my solemn promise isn't worth a tinker's curse,
But you have for security my tail inside the purse.'
That's a very daisent offer,' said 'The Ballyrunion Tank,'
'How would it be transacted, now, by cash or through a bank?'

Old Nick responded eagerly: 'Your wish is my command,
You can have it how you want it but I favour cash in hand.'
A squall of logic hit 'The Tank', though his head was hurting bad,
Could this be just another trick from Nick the Master Cad?

'I'd be an awful eejit now, to have you for me banker,
I have,' said he, 'no guarantee you wouldn't work a flanker.'
'Now listen Mr Clancy, Sir' - said Tom: 'Don't bullshit me!
Don't give me no more blarney hopin' I will set you free.'

'I wouldn't dream of that my boy, I know 'twould only fail,
For after all is said and done you've got my bleeding tail!'
The divvle offered Tom his hand, said he 'Now put it there,
You are a man of honour and you said the deal was fair.

Twenty brand new five-pound notes each Friday night I'll pay,
So let us act like gentlemen, then I'll be on my way.'
Although the divvle's tail was safe, thanks to the fairy wand,
Clancy hesitated to accept the outstretched hand.

He scratched his head and shuffled, and thought another bit,
Then moved his body forward and took the divvle's mitt.
The divvle flexed his muscles and gave a mighty squeeze,
Which shocked 'The Ballyrunion Tank' and brought him to his knees.

This superhuman effort made Nick the boss again,
And soon the very rafters rang as Clancy howled in pain.
The divvle pressed advantage and then relaxed his grip,
Said he: 'I will release you when we both can make the trip.

You know that fairy magic has got me in a fix,
So open up that little purse and don't try any tricks.'

Said Tom: 'You are the better man; you've got the drop on me,
So I'm prepared to compromise if you will set me free.

Forget about the hundred quid and takin' me to hell,
And I will open up the purse and break the magic spell.'
The divvle chuckled loudly and gave the arm a twist,
And Clancy yelled: 'Ah! Ah! You'll break me flamin' wrist!

All right! All right! You win! You win! Anything you say!
I'll open up the little purse; I'll do it right away.'
And as he crawled across the room the divvle held him hard,
To emphasise supremacy - another Joker card!

As Clancy bent to pick it up he recognised a fact,
In spite of all the hammering the purse was still intact.
The baton of the little elf had done its job so well
That the purse was indestructible within the magic spell.

Clancy grabbed the magic purse and pressed with all his might
Upon the hand entwined in his, with knuckles showing white.
The divvle gave a frightened yell as he released his grip,
And hurled himself across the room in monumental flip.

Once again his victory had changed into defeat,
As Clancy grabbed the chopper and chased him to the street.
Clancy placed the leather purse upon the table top
And arced the woodman's axe into another mighty chop.

Again there was a piercing scream and then an awful roar,
As Lucifer propelled himself against the cottage door.
And there the fallen angel fell down upon his knees:
'For God's sake put the axe away, it's meant for felling trees.'
Said Clancy: 'I have had enough of bargaining with you,
Just sit down there upon a chair, I'll tell you what to do.'

The divvle patted tenderly his rather sore behind.
I'd much prefer to stand,' said he, 'that's if you wouldn't mind.'

Said Tom: 'It doesn't matter, to me 'tis all the same.'
Then from the night into the light the little elf man came.
Clancy was delighted to see the little elf,
Although he knew he'd disapprove of bargaining for pelf.

The little man held out his hand, said he: 'I'll take the purse,
I never should have trusted you.' said Tom: 'It could be worse.
I know that crafty divvle took me for a ride,
But shure I did me level best to keep his tail inside.'

The little elf man nodded, said he: 'An' that you did,
Although your motivation was the weekly hundred quid.'
And then he fixed the divvle with an elf man look austere:
'How nice it is to see you, Nick, petrified with fear!'

The divvle looked uneasy and shuffled both his feet,
For Hades folk and elf men don't very often meet.
And then he plucked up courage, at least enough to speak,
Said he: 'I'm still prepared to pay the hundred pounds a week.

I'll pay it every Friday night, I'll pay it on the nail,
Then maybe in a month or two you'll let me have my tail.'
The little man then raised himself up to his three feet four,
And thumbed his chin and pondered and then he paced the floor.

He carried on traversing, lapel in either hand,
For nearly sixty seconds and then produced his wand.
He held aloft the magic cane then unto Clancy said:
'This spell will cease to function whenever you are dead.'

The divvle raised a protest in which he voiced his fears:
'A healthy chap like that could live another forty years.'
'Unless of course,' said Clancy, 'a rascal such as you
Could interfere with providence - the sort of thing you'd do.'

The little elf man beamed with glee, said he: 'I must confess,
You both have got a valid point but you will have to guess.
If Clancy lived for forty years you'd languish incomplete
But then at least you could be sure your tail and you would meet.

But if by chance or circumstance you hastened his demise,
The spell could be invalid - but then that's just surmise!'
Both Clancy and the divvle could understand his glee,
The object of the exercise was plain for each to see.

They both were being punished by that wily Leprechaun -
And then as if by magic the little man had gone.
Clancy hurried to the door, across the cottage room,
With the divvle close behind him and peered into the gloom.

'He's gone all right.' observed 'The Tank', 'He won't be coming back.'
The divvle cleared his throat to speak and Clancy hit the deck.
The divvle roared with laughter. 'Bedad,' said Tom, 'it's cat,
Sneakin' up behind a bloke, now that's enough o' that.'

The divvle taunted Clancy, said he: 'I've got you beat;
Just keep away from shadows when you're walking down the street.
You'll be a nervous wreck my boy, forgive me if I gloat,
You'll never know where I might be to grab you by the throat!'

Said Clancy: 'If you strangled me you'd be an awful chump,
You might have satisfaction but you'd also have your stump.
So think before you leap me boy, be careful if you do,
For I would not think twice about eliminatin' you!'

With that 'The Tank' picked up the axe but Nick had chosen flight -
A quick retreat into the street and hurtled through the night.
And there and then, the story goes, 'The Tank' lit out for town,
And strode up to the Parochial House and woke up Father Brown.

Said he: 'The love of alcohol has nearly cost me dear,
So I'm prepared to pledge myself to shun it for a year.'
And sure enough the words that he and Father Brown had spoken,
Were honoured to the letter and that pledge was never broken.

They say he emigrated to Chicago, USA,
And lived a life of abstinence until his dying day.
And many times I’ve heard it said that elf could not be found
To nullify the magic spell when Clancy went to ground.

Now as the story nears its end you wonder if it's true,
So, if you'd like to prove a point, I'll tell you what to do.
If you should meet the divvle, in some God-forsaken spot,
Just yank his tail to see if it is genuine or not!
The end