Griffin, Newsagent and Musician

Peter Griffin lived all alone in a cottage on the Main Steet, close to the parish church, which he kept scrupulously clean. He had a large stone outside his door - the top was quite flat which he used both as a seat and a platform when he delivered orations. He was of medium height and had an intellectual face.

He was educated to a fair extent and had a brother in a South Mayo town, who had a good practice at his profession. Griffin was the best educated man in Kiltimagh, and he claimed to descend from the author of "The Collegians" but thereby hangs a tale. He kept a library for his own books only and didn't believe in lending books for reasins best known to himself, as he lent a few and they were never returned.

He kept a variety of curios in his room, which he said he got from foreign parts, and were fabricated from the South Sea Islands, Cuba, Signapore and Borneo.

He would never give the names of the philanthropists, but that they were friends of his, who travelled in those foreign climes and brought those savage-made ornaments home and presented them to him as gifts.

Griffin was a skilled performer on the flute for his own pastime and the entertainment of his neighbours. He rendered some charming airs every night standing just outside his own door. His favourite tunes were "Charming Judy Calla ", "Out in Poland " and "An Dtiugeann" (T.D. Sullivan's),.

He earned money by writing letters for country people, drawing agreements, filling civil bill processes for debts due, between people.

He was looked upon as a kind of impartial arbitrator whose findings were observed, respected and carried out in the Courts of Justice. Griffin's counsel was sought in all emergencies, and he was remunerated for it without a murmur.

He sold the "Weekly News and Sullivan's Journal ", the only Dublin published paper sold in Kiltimagh, which arrived at 10 pm on Friday by charters from Claremorris.

As soon as Griffin would get the "News " he would put on his silk hat and an inverness cape, then walk the town, speaking in aloud fahion thus, "Dublin Weekly News ". "Latest from the sea of the war. Battle of Sudan, Napoleon surrenders, the capitulation of Metz, Escape of Marshal Bazine, Siege of Paris, Suicide of General Trouchu", and every important news item would be announced, like a city newsboy.

As a rule, Griffin would dispose of his limited stock of papers on Friday night, and on the nights following he would go round to all his customers and buy the papers back again at a halfpenny each, and sell them on Sunday morning to the country people at a penny each after mass was over.

He was poor and forced to exercised great economy to live. He would collect bits of board or sods of turf on the street, which he would bring home with him for fuel.

During election times he would stand on the stone platforms outside his door and deliver orations for or against parliamentary candidates. Griffin was a great advocate and equally great opponent, his patronage was sought by rivals for parliamentary honours.

He lived to a fine old age, but died without leaving a legacy, save the legacy of nobility of heart and soul. He was Kiltimagh's grand old man.

Extract from 'Kiltimagh: Our Life & Times', reproduced by kind permission of the authors.