Report from Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA, September 30, 1945
Challenge to King of Tinkers
GALWAY, Eire – An “upstart” claimant to the crown of Ireland’s roaming Tinker clan Saturday night was reported to be challenging Martin Ward’s right to kingship of the boisterous Gypsy knights of the road.
The six-foot four-inch be-mustached Ward won his title in an age-old ceremony six weeks ago when he proved he was the “fightingest, drinkingest man in Ireland.”
Ward set off on horseback Saturday for the annual horse show and sale at Ballinasloe, County Galway, prepared for trouble.
Word had reached him by the grapevine that a tinker named Martin MacDonagh was disputing his right to the hard-won title for which contestants from Ireland’s many tinker tribes were eliminated in drinking and fighting bouts.
“I am king of the Tinkers,” Ward’s powerful voice thundered to his fellow tribesmen as he set off. “I was chosen and crowned by the tribes.
“I’ll not abdicate. If MacDonagh turns up at Ballinasloe I am willing to meet him in a fair fight.”
He flexed his massive biceps and clenched his ham-like fists. “One clatter of this and MacDonagh will give up the ideas he has about being king,” he said.
Tinker tribes from all parts of Eire are on the move to Ballinasloe where the former king, who reigned 32 years, was buried last May.
With large sums of money tucked away in their gay-colored clothes, the Tinkers plan to buy their rugged new king four white horses for a fully-equipped caravan already purchased. Possession of the horses – if MacDonagh’s claim to the throne is ignored or is beaten from him in a no-holds-barred fight with Ward-gives Ward the right to free food anywhere in his “kingdom,” free drinks and the choice of the comeliest colleen among Eire’s 5,000 tinkers.
Written by Finbarr O'Regan
Published here 08 Feb 2021 and originally published 30 September 1945
Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, Ireland
All chronicles and historical accounts written by local residents. Not including… Here some recent records:
A Ramble around Athenry in the 40s Jimmy Somers 1995: Old Church Street
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