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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


'Yellow Lion Inn'

The Lion's Tale

From the files of The Nationalist & Leinster Times, Carlow.

Source: P Walker & Carloviana 1959


Yellow Lion Inn, Burrin Street

Photo by Donald Godfrey

One of the many inns which existed in Carlow during the horse transport era was called The Yellow Lion in Burrin Street. An amusing story is told in connection with the repainting of the inn's signboard some time in the 1800s.
It seems that a travelling artist named "Michael Angelo" came to Carlow in the 1800s looking for work. He arrived at the Yellow Lion inn and noticing that the signboard was weather beaten, old, and faded, the lion being only a ghost of its former self, offered to renew the sign.

The proprietor consented to employ him, but being a hard fisted, penurious man, he haggled for a long time over the price of the work to be executed.

The artist, being hard-up, as a last resource, to gain a little additional money out of his crusty patron, he urged that he be allowed to represent the lion as chained to a pillar, with a gilt chain around his neck, and as gold leaf was then very dear, he asked that an additional item of 2 would be added to the bill originally agreed on.

This proposal was cut short by the proprietor saying, "I don't want such tomfoolery, paint the lion as he had been painted before or give up the job".

The artist, now seeing it was useless to appeal to the generosity of his crusty patron, consented to do the job. As there was no stipulation as to whether the work was to be done in oil or distemper colours he (the artist) made up his mind to pay his employer off with his own scanty coin.

The signboard was taken down, the artist went to work, and produced a lion which Landseer might not be ashamed of, much to the satisfaction of the proprietor.

When all was ready, it was hung up over the door. It was noticed that on the evening of that day, the artist, having been paid for his work, made a rather precipitate retreat from the town in the Kilkenny direction, much to the surprise of people who told him that there was a chance of more work when people about town would come to see his superior artistic powers.

That night proved to be a remarkably wet one, the rain pouring down in torrents. Next morning a droughty customer entered the inn and after being served asked, "Where is the lion?", "Oh", replied the proprietor, "several people have been asking me that while the painter was doing up the sign; you haven't looked up to see the splendid job he has made of it; we hung it up yesterday morning". "Yes, I have looked up", replied the customer", and have seen nothing to admire. The board, no doubt is there but the lion is gone, there's no lion on that board, I'd swear".

The proprietor stepped out, and to his amazement and chagrin, the truth of the intimation was revealed to him. The lion had completely disappeared; there wasn't even the faintest trace of a fragment of paw, mane, fangs or tail left, he had gone glimmering through the dream of things that were.

It was now discovered that the artist had fraudulently used water or distemper colours, which were liable to be washed away if exposed to wet or damp.

The proprietor issued legal proceedings against the artist, pursued him to Kilkenny, and had him conveyed in custody back to Carlow, where he was brought up before the magistrates on a charge of fraud.

When there he ably defended himself and convulsed the court by pleading that, from the penuriousness of his employer, who refused to allow him to chain the lion with a gold chain to a pillar, the animal had made his escape; that it wasn't he (the artist) that should be in the dock, but the employer for criminal neglect in leaving a wild beast at large, and that, perhaps, the lion had gone away with his prey -some of the customers, maybe -and requested that the justices would kindly tell the police to institute inquiries if anyone had been missing.

Anyway, he turned the table on the proprietor and was discharged from custody scratchless.

Source: From the files of The Nationalist & Leinster Times, Carlow.


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