Storyteller Eamon Kelly recounts the tale 'The King of the Tradesmen' in which St Patrick forces a publican to give fair measures of beer.
Ireland’s master storyteller (seanachaí) Eamon Kelly tells the tale of ‘The King of the Tradesmen’. He recalls how in ancient Ireland, St Patrick baptised the king first, so the rank and file would follow suit.
A clever plan too, only a foreigner would think of it.
When the Tower of Babel was being built, it was agreed the smith was the king of all tradesmen. So when it came to converting the tradesmen to Christianity, St Patrick went directly to the forge.
As it was a hot day St Patrick and the blacksmith repaired to the pub across the road. On seeing the smith’s pint was short, St Patrick suggested the publican top it up with half a whiskey. However St Patrick only paid for the pint and his own drink. When challenged for the price of the whiskey St Patrick retorted,
If the pint was full it wouldn’t go into it.
The smith confirmed the publican never sold accurate measures. St Patrick chastised the publican for short changing his patrons,
You’re only fattening the devil.
Sure enough the devil living under the stairs of the pub was revealed to be an obese individual.
The publican promised to mend his ways. St Patrick went to the country for a month and when he returned the smith had all the tradesmen assembled at the forge, ready to be baptised.
Before sprinkling the holy water, St Patrick took them across the road to the pub. This time all the pints were the correct measure. The publican wondered,
What effect all this is having on the quare fella under the stairs.
A check on the devil confirmed he had lost so much weight that,
Only for the two horns you could pull him through the eye of a needle.
The effect this had on community was,
Conversions went ahead with such rapidity that they ran out of salt for making holy water.
This episode of 'Last House' was broadcast on 27 July 1976.