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The Night Jayne Mansfield Came to Tralee (Part 2) by Michael Clemenger

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Michael Clemenger

Michael Clemenger

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Read Part 1 of this article here.

The Bishop of Kerry suggested that the good people of Tralee should boycott her appearance, and for those others who might feel the need to protest they should do so peacefully and within the confines of the law. He concluded his address stating that as a shepherd it was his solemn duty to protect his flock. The likes of Jayne Mansfield should be shunned by the good people of Kerry and those of Tralee most particularly.

By this stage there were newspaper reporters and TV crews from RTE stopping people on the street for their views on the jezebel Jayne Mansfield.  Mrs Walsh of the 12 children dressed up in her finery assumed that she spoke for the generality of the towns folk. She gave the drivel chat about the threat to the innocence and chastity of the young people coming under serious assault by what the bishop called the Goddess of Lust. Some of the young people laughed at her commenting on the fact that some of her own brood went up and down the streets in such a state of undress that there was little to be left to the imagination. Some even added that there were likely to die of pneumonia on a hot summer’s day.

As I had hoped the management of the Mount Brandon hotel refused to heed the instructions of the bishop. The invitation to Miss Mansfield would stand. It was also becoming clearer that the young people of Tralee were disinclined to heed any such advice. The Church’s urging of a boycott only seemed to further their determination as it did mine. We were intent on being present on Sunday evening.

Reinforcements by church authorities were obviously needed. The bishop’s words had not had their desired effect and so it fell to the local parish priest of Tralee Monsignor Paul Frances Mc Carthy  to make the final plea to the Brandon hotel and to the people. His sermon was a valiant one, even though he knew which way the wind was blowing. As expected he did not spare the lash as he addressed the congregation.

My dear people, he began – it is with a heavy heart that I address you this morning. I had come to St Oliver’s Church early to get a good view of the proceedings. What I have to say to you comes from divine inspiration, as he looked upwards for a moment. I have no prepared notes. I know you are all aware that an actress by the name of Jayne Mansfield is to perform some kind of cabaret act at the Mount Brandon hotel this evening.  I am reliably informed that there is a whiff of sulphur about her which some of you may find beguiling. She has been described to me as a pedlar of sexual impropriety and pornography.

My colleague the bishop of Kerry has described her as a Goddess of Lust. A poor unfortunate woman who has sold her soul to the devil has no place in our midst. I quote from the recent Vatican council which states ‘that all Catholics should reject any form of entertainment that could be considered an occasion of sin or likely to cause a spiritual desolation in their souls’. Alas my dear people had this Goddess of Lust remained faithful to the tenants of the Catholic faith of her childhood she would not be now facing the inevitability of eternal damnation.

To all of you gathered here before me today men, women, boys and girls I besiege you to avoid this occasion of sin. The innocence and chastity of our young people is in mortal danger. With his hands gesticulating in the air he tundered that the parents of the children of Tralee had a sacred duty to protect them from such depravity. I ask all of you gathered here to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the mass this morning.

How can you in good conscience play Russian roulette with the devil in the dark of the night. Tomorrow will already be too late. The destiny of your soul lies in your own hands. All of you young and old must dissociate yourselves from the vile attempts to destroy the good name of our town as exemplified by our annual Rose of Tralee festival, beauty and chastity at its finest.

Under the evil influence of the devil this Goddess of Lust and her associates have brazenly attempting something egregious contrary to the moral teachings of our faith against our Catholic traditions and against the ordinary decencies of life.  Something we should all hold dear. My dear people you would do well to reflect on these inspiring words lest you falter in your resolve to stay away from the Mount Brandon hotel this evening.

Alas it was all in vain Miss Mansfield did appear that Sunday evening and I almost was crushed to death in the scrum to get close to her. The church authorities had somewhat of an Pyrrhic victory in that Jayne Mansfield could not perform her show that night. The reason given by hotel management was her backing band had broken down on its way from Dublin.

Miss Mansfield still received her fee of £1000 and after a good breakfast the following morning, her and her party caught a flight to Paris. Even though I did not know it at the time I had sensed the power of the Catholic Church was beginning to slip. Sadly a few months later in August 1967 Jayne Mansfield was killed in a car crash in America.

(c) Michael Clemenger

Read Part 1 of this article here.

About Everybody Knew:

Michael Clemenger was handed over as a baby to the unloving care of a religious-run children’s home. Aged eight, he was transferred to St Joseph’s Industrial School.

Chosen as their ‘favourite’ by two Christian Brothers, Michael endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of both men. Brother Price struck at night, while Brother Roberts took pleasure in a weekly bathtime ritual. Although everybody at the institution knew, even the two Brothers’ ‘protection’ did not save Michael from merciless beatings by other sadistic men charged with his care.

Despite the unbelievable trauma of his early life, Michael emerged unbroken and determined to make something of himself. Everybody Knew is a story of remarkable spirit and courage.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

My autobiography was published by O Brien Press in 2009 called Holy Terrors. This book was subsequently published by Ebury Press in the UK and called Everybody Knew and sold well there and then in recent years it was translated into French and called Dans L’enfer de L’orphelinat. It has sold 90,000 copies to date and is still selling reasonably well in France. I have recently penned a number of plays and I have had them reviewed by the Abbey Theatre, some members of Trim Drama Group and Insight Theatre Group in Celbridge. The genre I write about is social life in Ireland from 1960’s onwards. Some of the titles are : – The Monoboy, The Night Jayne Mansfield came to Tralee, Return to Rockford, The Mission of Ballykinn, The Mist that Falls over Land, No is Never a Full; Sentence, The Riddle of the Stone, We had No Secrets and A Dying Business ( a short comedy). I am currently working on another play called The Lodger.

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