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Kehoe from Donegal or: The Great Kehoe & the Great O'Kelly Masters of Persiflage
Posted by: Dianne Kehoe Lawrence (ID *****4226) Date: October 03, 2009 at 16:18:05
  of 1252

I found the following story while searching for my Kehoe ancestors. It appeared in the August 28, 1931 edition of The Perth Courier reprinted from the ‘Old Time Stuff’ column in the Ottawa Citizen.

Westport is a village in North Crosby Township, Leeds County, Ontario. Perhaps your Kehoe from Donegal, a former teacher and later hotelkeeper, settled there. The 'Great Kehoe' isn't my line and even if it's not yours, it's a good Irish story.

The ‘Great Kehoe’ and the ‘Great O’Kelly’ Masters of Persilflage

Back in the early history of Westport, about 1855, there lived in the village two Irishmen, who were friends. One of the men was a hotelkeeper named Kehoe who had in his earlier days been a school teacher. The other was a tailor named Kelly.

According to the story Kelly used to break his work for a little while every morning and pay a visit to his friend Kehoe. Both Kehoe and Kelly were given to the use of grandiloquent language. Both spoke with a rich brogue.

Kelly had the habit of going into Kehoe’s banging down a penny on the counter and demanding, with much persiflage, a glass of whiskey. It was cheap in those days.

Kehoe would answer Kelly’s persiflage in kind and both used to take great pleasure out of their duels of high sounding words.

The verbal battles of Kehoe and Kelly were for years the talk of the village. One day Kelly banged the counter harder than usual and demanded his glass with more mock imperiousness than was his custom.

“Huh,” said Kehoe. “It’s a fine time isn’t it, when every rag-tag and bob-tail can come in here domineering over the 'Great Kehoe' from Donegal.”

“Whew, whew”, snorted Kelly, “the Great Kehoe is it. Well let me tell you that many a man, of importance has received his raiment from the 'Great O’Kelly'.” And so the humorous battle would proceed.

Kelly and Kehoe were of a type of Irishmen seldom found in these busy days. Life was easy and unhurried in Westport in those days and persiflage helped to pass the time.

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