Maid to have her immodesty restored


The modesty of a Maid of Erin's cleavage in Listowel, Co Kerry, has been lost forever after the valiant efforts of a Clare man failed to get her covered up. Mr Howard Flannery, owner of the Maid of Erin inn, applied a lick of paint to the statue above his premises last October, changing the colour of her dress from green to blue and raising it from waist height to shoulder level, covering her bare breasts. In the process, he happened to apply a sash of saffron, which just happens to be Clare's colour.

It took about two days for the locals to notice, but Mr Flannery, a former middleweight boxer, soon found himself squared up against an outraged solicitor, Mr Maurice O'Sullivan, who challenged him to a debate in the pub on Wednesday. The two duly appeared, attired in tuxedos and boxing gloves. The audience paid £1 each to vote on the issue, money which will go to the Nano Nagle School for children with special needs. Mr Flannery accepts now that he may have lost the argument, after having to concede that he would not put boxer shorts on the statues of Daniel O'Connell or Eamon de Valera in his home town of Ennis.

"There are a couple of Clare guards in the locality and they supported the colours, but I do not think anybody supported the fact that I covered her." Mr O'Sullivan, who once defended Mr Flannery in an afterhours case, is confident of victory when all the votes are in. His prize will be to get Mr Flannery up on a ladder in his boxer shorts to reverse the forces of conservatism. The Maid of Erin, a 19th-century work by Anthony McAuliffe, awaits her new unveiling.