‘Irish Times’ joke competition from 1891: 12 odd entries

Weekly ‘Cream of Jokes’ contest awarded half-crown for the funniest submission

In the 1890s, The Irish Times ran a weekly joke competition - “Cream of Jokes” - and gave a cash prize to the writer of the best gag. Below are the entries published on the front page of the paper on Saturday, January 3rd, 1891 - some are good, many are bad and most are vaguely dark. Others, we just don’t get.

January 3rd, 1891: A good joke is a pleasant thing. It amuses and entertains everyone who hears or reads it. It cannot possibly do any harm but it can do a deal of good, and because it has this tendency we have pleasure in offering 2s 6d every week for the Best Joke sent in by any of our readers. The prize will be awarded to the competitor who, in the opinion of the Adjudicator, sends in the BEST JOKE, the Editor reserving to himself the right to publish any of the other jokes sent in. Competitors will please give their names and addresses in sending their competitions, which should be addressed to : Editor, Weekly Irish Times, Dublin and endorsed "Joke Competition".

All jokes sent in for competition should reach this office not later than by first post on Monday morning following publication. Readers will please remember that the prize is given for one joke, not a dozen or two.

The half-crown goes this week to:

Mr William I Long, The Abbey, Ferrybank, Waterford City, for the following:

- A man was brought up on the charge of beating his wife and biting off a portion of her ear. However, the woman, good-natured soul, was anxious to screen her husband , and if possible, obtain his acquittal , as appears from her evidence. . .

Magistrate: “ Your husband has been treating you very badly, eh !”

Witness:” Oh! No, your worship.”

Magistrate: “ No? Why, did he not bite off a piece of your ear?”

Witness: “No, your worship, I did it my-self.”

- Two farmers , while riding along together , encountered a large number of clergymen, and one of them said to the other: " Where be all these parsons coming from?"

To this his friend replied: “They’ve been at a visitation.”

The other, no wiser than before, said: “What’s a visitation?”

And the answer he received was: “ Why, it’s where all the parsons go once a year and swops their sermons!”

His friend, on being thus enlightened , quietly remarked-

“Dang it; but oor chap, mun, get the worst on it every time!”


- Smith: "I thought you was going to drown that cat, Jones!"

Jones: “ Well, they say a cat has nine lives, but this one has twenty, I think. Why, I actually put that cat in a tub of water and tied a brick round its neck; and what do you think! “

Smith: “ Goodness knows.”

Jones: “ Well, next morning when I went to look it had swallowed all the water and was sitting on the brick. “

By E O’R

- "Shall I help you to alight?" asked a city exquisite of a muscular country girl, who was about to get out of a wagon that had just come up to the porch of the rural tavern. She jumped from the wagon and indignantly exclaimed: " What do you mean by asking me if I want a light ? You don't think I smoke, do you?"


- An Irish post boy, having driven a gentleman a long stage , during torrents of rain , the latter civily said to him: "Paddy are you not very wet?"

“Arrah! I don’t care about being very wet; but , plaze yer honour , I’m very dry.!


- Mother to son who had been lately attending a penny night school in Donegal: "Thomas, bring me in some of that rotten wood and put it on the fire."

Thomas: I am sorry to inform you mother that the grammatical portion of your education has been sadly neglected. You should have said: “Bring into this edifice a portion of that combustible of defunct log.”


- As William bent over her fair face he whispered: "Darling, if I should ask you in French if I might kiss you, what would you say?"

She, summing up her scanty knowledge of French, replied: “Billet deux.”


- An Irishwoman called at a publican's the other day and asked for a quart of beer. It was measured out, and she put it into a gallon jug. She then asked for another quart to be put into the same vessel.

“And why not ask for a, half-gallon and have done with it?” said the publican.

“Oh, bless your little bit of a soul,” answered she, “it’s for two persons.”


- In a certain large city - never mind where- there lived two pretty sisters who had married; one an eminent lawyer , the other a distinguished literary man.

Literary man dies, and leaves younger sister a widow. Some years roll away, and the widow lays aside her weeds.

Now, then , it happens that a certain author and critic has occasion on a broiling day in summer to call on the eminent lawyer, husband of the elder sister. He finds the lawyer pleading and sweltering in a crowded court, sees that the lawyer is suffering dreadfully from the beat, pities him, rejoices that he himself is not a lawyer, and goes for a cool saunter under the sheltering trees of a fashionable park and garden.

Among the ice-eating, fanning crowd there, he meets the younger of the two sisters, and for a moment thinks he is talking to the elder. “Oh, mister,” says the lady, “how dreadfully hot it is here.”

“Yes, madam,” replied our luckless critic; “it is hot here , but I assure you the heat of this place isn’t a circumstance when compared with the heat of the place where your poor dear, husband is suffering to-day.”

A horror-stricken expression comes over the face of the lady; she rises from her chair, and flounces indignantly away.


- Sandy was bent on robbing the orchard, but unhappily the proprietor was amongst the trees, and noticed his stealthy approach. He did not, however, quite grasp the situation , and as Sandy went through a gap in the hedge, he cried: " Whaur be goin', Sandy ?"

Sandy took all in at a glance: “Back agen,” he replied , and disappeared through the gap.


- A youth at school In Scotland who lacked musical talent , and whose voice consequently jarred during the singing lesson, was always allowed a holiday on singing days. His mother, failing to divine the cause of her son's forced absence , paid a visit to the school to inquire into the matter. In answer to her query as to why her son was sent home on such occasions, the teacher said: " Why, simply because he has no ear. "

“ What!” she exclaimed , “nae ear! Did anybody ever hear the like o’ that? Nae ear? Why he has a lug like a saucer , man.”


- “Courtship and marriage”

Courtship is sweet when the nights are long,

And the north wind is blowing fierce and strong,

And the lamp in the parlour is turned down low,

And the only light is the grate’s red glow,

And she is close to your bosom pressed,

And she lays her head with a sigh on your breast ,

And you look in the depths of her lovelit eyes,

That mirror - the blue of the noonday skies,

And you kiss her lips and her dimpled chin,

But marriage. Ah, that ‘s where the hitch comes in.


- A young damsel who is engaged and will shortly be united to a gallant son of Neptune, lately visited a mariner 's church. During the sermon the parson discoursed eloquently and with much earnestness of the dangers and temptations of the sailor. He concluded by asking, "Is there one who thinks anything of him who wears a tarpaulin hat and blue jacket? In short , is there one who cares ought for the poor sailor?

A little girl, a sister of the damsel jumped up, and looking archly at her sister, said in a tone loud enough for everyone to hear: “ Yes, sir; our Jane does.”


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