Monday, 13 April 2015

Old Greenock Characters - Tara to the Pope

From John Donald's Old Greenock Characters, which we present as they were written...

William Cranmer was a respectable hard-working man, employed about the quays; but on Saturdays he broke out. On that day he would come up Charles Street, literally by leaps and bounds, shouting aimlessly, “Tara to the Pope!Tara to the Pope!" His original cry (it was supposed by some people) was intended to consign His Holiness to the regions below, but a strong hint from the police sufficed to tone the slogan, and Tara was so impressed as, even in drink, to remember it. That is not correct, however. I am informed by a lady who lived near him that she had often heard him, in his own house, bawling, "My name is William Cranmer, and I'm a terror to the Pope." On the street his "terror" sounded like "tara," and Tara he was called by us boys. So while he shouted "Tara to the Pope! Tara to the Pope!", the ubiquitous urchin would dart in, pull his coat tails, and dart off again. Tara in his cups heeded not the boys ; but the misguided lad who attempted the coat-pulling process on Tara sober, usually had his ears cuffed for his pains.

Tara once figured in an extraordinary incident which occurred at the junction of Charles Street with Hamilton Street, opposite the jeweller's shop then occupied by Mr Menzies. He was well-fuddled, and turned to chase, good-naturedly enough, a boy who had tugged his coat-tail and saluted him in the usual manner. The boy ran off, and, as a cab was slowly turning the corner, darted under the belly of the horse, while Tara bumped against a wheel of the cab and was thrown back on the street, slightly shaken, but otherwise uninjured. The truth of this incident is vouched for by an eye-witness.