Victualler – Basil McBride’s ‘Word of the Week’ | Member Blog

Basil McBride's 'Word of the Week'_ebook

Lee Sheridan

Good news, everyone! Luain Press’ next title ‘Basil McBride’s Word of the Week’ is available for purchase ( and is launching in Maynooth Community Library this week as part of the Kildare Reader’s Festival. To celebrate the launch and our local community, we’re sharing a sample article from the book below. Each article is based on a word – in the case of this article, the word is ‘victualler’, which is another term for a butcher…

There’s an awful shortage of hen’s teeth these days. There’s an even greater shortage of theologians. It is my occupation in that theological thoughts occupy my mind a lot of the time, but I must confess that it is not a well-paying line of work – at least when it comes to material riches. My spiritual net worth on the other hand is up there in the billions (I know that’s a hard thing to measure, but all you must do is look into my eyes – the windows of my soul – and try not to be seduced by the purities of my spirit.)

Aside from being a dying breed, there are other challenges that the modern theologian must face – particularly if you are a theologian who resides in Maynooth. Context: many years ago, when the pontifical university used to grow priests by the baker’s dozen, it was common practice for seminarians, when walking up Maynooth’s Main Street from the college, to remain on the left-hand side. Further context: this was so because there were no pubs along the left. No pubbing equals no degenerate, ungodly behaviour.

How accommodating and thoughtful of the publicans; how kind and truly pious they must have been: helping the budding priests to abstain from drink. Of course, all this temperance went out the window when O’Neill’s – once a victualler (Irish term for a butcher) – was bought over and turned into a pub. Well faith! I’ve never seen the likes of it. In later years, a wine bar was opened further up the road. Whatever chance the seminarians had before, they’d no chance now, for once they’d resist the temptation of O’Neill’s, they’d not swerve away from the electric nectar – the lusty sweetness of wines both red and white. Oh, sweet summer’s blood that doth unbind the tongue! This is a terrible shame, as I have seen many a fine seminarian endure a sharp decline in their faculties and go on to develop, as my grandmother would say, “the little weakness”.

Currently across the road, on the right-hand side of the street, are the following public houses: The Roost, McMahons, Brady’s, and The Clock House. The latter two are owned by the same proprietor, and it could be argued that they are more or less the same pub, but as they are technically separate, with each possessing their own unique air, I’d class them as different entities. With that in mind – a pub-to-street ratio of 2:1 – sure ’tis no wonder that some priests are all right and the others half-left. Lord graciously hear us!

Go raibh mile,
Basil McBride

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