Salute to the Putóg

by Seán Staunton … with thanks to a true gentleman.

Near the banks of the Black Oak River, in the shadow of the holy mountain
A passer-by might see Seán Kelly, behind his counter counting
Not money, that would be too crass for a master butcher at his art
Watching the townsfolk pass at each day’s end and at its start

No, this butcher of the clan Kelly, the passer-by might see
Laying out his blessed putóg which brought him victory
A member of the esteemed Fraternité, with likeminded men and women
He has fought the good fight to maintain tradition whose beginning
Dates back 2,000 years and more to a man named Apicus
Whose recipe for black pudding caused quite the Roman fuss

Heralded as this country’s best, Kelly’s putóg is still humble
When showered in praise and blessing, it’s sometimes heard to mumble
“It’s nought to do with me at all, I’m just some modest innards
It’s my maker and his family, now they are the real winners”

And so they are, these artisans of all that’s best in craft
Sloppy standards or poor service which would drive the Kellys daft
Their putóg is a pleasure in which many can indulge
Though the Kelly boys, on pain of death, the recipe won’t divulge

Playing about their mouths and eyes the satisfaction that their toil
And that of their forefathers brings fame to Newport soil
This town beloved of a pirate queen, Gráinne Uaile knew its proportions
But never would have dreamed that blood and guts in various contortions
Could, coupled with some condiments, oatmeal, onions and suet
Bring pleasure to the masses but founder Dominick Kelly knew it

And so in 1930 he set out his humble stall
Determined that his putóg the locals would enthral
And lo it was, in apron clad, he worked his butcher’s magic
To run out of a putóg would be nothing short of tragic

They came from miles around to see it nestled on its tray
White pudding fair and speckled, the putóg black as clay
At Sunday mass in St. Patrick’s, they gave thought to divine questions
And thanked the sheep who offered up their glorious intestines

The rebel, Fr. Sweeny, that famous local priest
Was toasted and remembered at many pudding feasts
Glasses, too, were held aloft in praise of Burrishoole and its martyrs
An abbey full of history and that was just for starters

For Newport boasts many other gems in addition to the pudding
Nephin Beg and Furnace, not a place to burn your wood in
But a beauty spot unparalleled, leading on to Céide Fields
In the distance where our ancestors lay for centuries concealed

It’s pride of place too that drives Burrishoole GAA club
To victor, sometimes defeat, quite often to the pub
These heroes of the GAA world are Kelly’s greatest fans
As we all know, dear listeners, the putóg maketh the man

The putóg kings of Ireland, locally known as Kellys,
Have for four score years now put fire in our bellies
To eat and love and be the best, the greatest of its kind
No greater, more loved putóg will you on this island find.

So follow the signs for Newport, the seven arches will guide your path
And travel on to Rockfleet Castle to see Grace O’Malley’s bath
Only the waters of Clew Bay were good enough for her
And indeed the sheep who graze nearby would certainly concur

That although they give their lives in order that the putóg may have its day
There’s no greater martyrdom on earth and it’s a small price to pay
To be immortalised in casing, thick, to sate the appetites
So raise your glasses, dearest friends, to Kellys’ putóg’s great delights