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CHARACTERS

DONAL CORCORAN A farmer
MARY ELLEN CORCORAN Wife of Donal Corcoran
KITTY CORCORAN Daughter of Ellen and Donal Corcoran
DENIS DELAHUNTY A farmer
ANASTATIA DEALHUNTY Wife of Denis Delahunty
CONSTABLE DUNLEA A member of the R. I. C.

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

Place: An island off the West coast of Ireland.

Scene: Interior of Donal Corcoran’s house. Donal and his wife seated in two comfortable armchairs by the parlour fire. The parlour is well furnished, and Kitty is busy dusting, as visitors are expected. Donal is a man of about fifty-six years, and his wife is a little younger. Donal is reading a copy of the Galway Examiner, and his wife is knitting a stocking.

DONAL (as he stretches the paper in front of him. With a look of surprise) Glory be to God!

MRS. CORCORAN (who does not notice his attitude or expression) Amen!

DONAL (holds the paper with one hand, and brushes the hair from his forehead with the other) Is it the way that I’m dreamin’, or losin’ my senses? Or is it the way I have no senses to lose?

MRS. CORCORAN (looking up from her knitting) Wisha, what’s the matter, at all? Did any one die and leave you a fortune?

DONAL Who the devil would die and leave me anything? when I have no one belongin’ to me but poor relations. Bad luck to them, and they only waitin’ for myself to die, so that they could have what I worked and slaved for all those long and weary years. But ’tisn’t much there will be for any one after Kitty gets her dowry. What’s left will be little enough for ourselves, I’m thinkin’.

MRS. CORCORAN
But what have you seen in the newspaper?

DONAL (reads) Baronetcy for the chairman of the Innismore Board of Guardians. His Majesty the King has been pleased to confer a Royal favour on the worthy and exemplary Denis Delahunty, who in future will be known as Sir Denis Delahunty, Bart., in recognition of his services to the people of Innismore. It was with a feelin’ of pride and admiration that

MRS. CORCORAN (as she drops the stocking on the floor, lifts the spectacles from her nose, and places them on her brow) The Lord protect and save us all! Is it the truth, I wonder?

DONAL (handing paper)
See for yourself, woman.

MRS. CORCORAN (grabs the paper and scans it with interest) Sure enough, there it is, then, with five lines of large black letters and two columns of small letters besides, and his photograph as well. (To Kitty) Look Kitty, darlin’, look. There ’tis all. Sit down and read it aloud for us. ’Twill sound better that way.

KITTY (takes the paper and smiles. Falls on a chair nearly overcome with laughter. The parents look on in amazement) Sir Denis Delahunty! (Laughs heartily)

DONAL
What are you laughin’ at? You impudent hussy!

KITTY (still laughing)
Sir Denis Delahunty, Bart., my dear!

DONAL
Yes, yes, Sir Denis Delahunty. And what about it?

KITTY
Dinny Delahunty, the old caubogue, a baronet, and
no less! (Laughs)

DONAL
I’ll have no more of this laughin’, I say. What at all,
are you amused at, I’d like to know?

KITTY Oh, father, sure ’tis a blessing that some one has a sense of humour, like myself and the King. And ’twas the great laugh he must have had to himself, when he made a baronet of Dinny Delahunty. Not to mention all the other shoneens and huxters, from here to Bantry.

DONAL How dare you speak to me like that, miss, when ’tis yourself that will be Lady Delahunty one of these fine days. Dinny, I mean, Sir Denis himself, is comin’ here to-night to make a match with his son, Finbarr.

KITTY Wisha, indeed, now! And who told you I am going to wed Finbarr Delahunty? And he a more miserable shoneen than his old crawthumping humbug of a father.

DONAL If you’ll speak as disrespectfully as that again about any of my friends you’ll be sorry for it. ’Tis I’m tellin’ you that you are to wed Finbarr Delahunty and that’s information enough for you, my damsel.

KITTY I’ll spare you the trouble of picking a man for me, father.

MRS. CORCORAN
Don’t be disobedient, Kitty. You must remember
that I never laid eyes on your father until the mornin’
I met him at the altar rails.

KITTY
You should be ashamed to acknowledge the like,
mother.

DONAL
Ashamed of me, is it? The father that rared and
schooled you!

KITTY
I have said nothing at all to offend you, father. But
I have already told you that I am going to pick a
husband for myself.

DONAL You are goin’ to pick a husband for yourself! Are you, indeed? Ah, sure ’tis the stubbornness of your mother’s people that’s in you.

MRS. CORCORAN (as she keeps knitting)
And her father’s, too.

DONAL
What’s that you’re saying, woman?

MRS. CORCORAN
I said that ’twas from your side of the family that
she brought the stubbornness.

DONAL How dare you say that, and in my presence, too? The devil blast the one belongin’ to me was ever stubborn. She’s her mother’s daughter, I’m tellin’ you.

MRS. CORCORAN
Whatever is gentle in her comes from me, and what’s
stubborn and contrary comes from you and yours.

DONAL (in a rage) God be praised and glorified! What’s gentle in her, will you tell me? She that pleases herself in everythin’. (To Kitty) I’ll knock the stubbornness out of you, my young lady, before we will have another full moon.

MRS. CORCORAN
Indeed and you won’t, then, nor in ten full moons,
either.

DONAL (as he walks up and down the kitchen)
Woman! woman! woman! You are all alike! Every
damn one of you, from the Queen to the cockle picker.

KITTY
You have no right to marry me to any one against
my will.

DONAL And is it the way I’d be leavin’ you marry some good-for-nothing idle jackeen, who couldn’t buy a ha’porth of bird seed for a linnet or a finch, let alone to keep a wife? That’s what a contrary, headstrong, uncontrollable whipster like you would do, if you had your own way. But, be God, you will have little of your own way while I am here and above ground.

KITTY If stubbornness was a virtue, you’d be a saint, father, and they’d have your picture in all the stained glass windows in every church in the country, like St. Patrick or St. Columkille, himself.

MRS. CORCORAN (laughs at Kitty’s answer) Well, well, well, to be sure! You are your father’s daughter, Kitty.

DONAL
She’s the devil’s daughter, I’m thinkin’.

[A loud knocking is heard at the door. Kitty opens it and Denis Delahunty enters. He is dressed in a new frock coat and top hat.

MRS. CORCORAN AND DONAL (as he enters) Welcome, Sir Denis, welcome. (They both shake hands with him) Our heartiest congratulations, and warmest respects.

DONAL (pointing to his own chair) Take my own chair, the best in the house, that I wouldn’t offer to the Bishop or the Lord Lieutenant himself, if either of them called to see me. [Sir Denis sits down, but forgets to remove his hat, which is much too small, and tilted to one side. When Kitty sees the strange figure he cuts, she laughs outright, at which her father gets very angry.

DONAL (to Kitty)
What are you laughin’ at? You brazen creature!

KITTY (laughing)
Sir Denis has on some one else’s tall hat.

SIR DENIS (looks very bored, removes the hat and says rather sadly) You are mistaken, my child. Badly mistaken! ’Tis my own hat. ’Twas the only one in the town that I could get that came near fittin’ me, and herself, I mean Lady Delahunty, wouldn’t leave me out without it.

KITTY
I hope that you feel more comfortable than you
look, Sir Denis.

SIR DENIS To tell the truth, Kitty, I don’t know whether ’tis on my head or my heels I’m standin’. The devil a one of me was ever aware that His Majesty the King knew or thought so much about me. If I was only made a mere knight inself, it wouldn’t be so bad; but think of bein’ made a whole baronet all of a sudden like that, and not knowin’ a bit about it beforehand.

DONAL
You are the lucky man, Sir Denis, but don’t know it.

SIR DENIS I suppose I am, Donal. At one stroke of his sword, so to speak, the King of, well, we might say of half the whole world, put an unbridgeable gulf between herself, I mean Lady Delahunty, and myself, and the common people forever and forever!

KITTY (laughing)
May the Lord forgive him.

DONAL
I suppose you must present yourself at Court and
have tea with the Queen herself?

MRS. CORCORAN Sure, of course, he must be presented at Court, and the Queen with a crown of glitterin’ jewels on her head will bow to him, the same as if he was the Rajah of Ballyslattery, himself, and he with his ten thousand wives and numerous attendants. And for all we know, maybe ‘tis the way he’ll be invitin’ the whole Royal Family to spend the summer with himself and Lady Delahunty at Innismore.

SIR DENIS ’Tis the great responsibility that has been thrust upon herself, I mean Lady Delahunty, and myself surely. But we have made no plans, so far, for the entertainment of Royalty, and their conspicuous aide-de-camps.

KITTY
Aides-de-camp, you mean, I suppose, Sir Denis.

DONAL
How dare you correct Sir Denis?

SIR DENIS However, I suppose in time we will get accustomed to our new surroundin’s and environment. The Prince of Wales, they say, is hard to please, but I have no doubt that he will be glad to meet Lady Delahunty and myself.

DONAL I have no doubt whatever but he will be delighted to meet Lady Delahunty and yourself. But, of course, every man’s trouble appears greater to himself, than to his neighbours. And as we all think more about ourselves than any one else, and as you have now partially recovered from the unexpected stroke of royal generosity, we might as well get down to business and fix up that match with Kitty and your son Finbarr.

SIR DENIS With reference to the royal favour, Donal, I might as well be candid and say, that it wasn’t altogether unexpected, because I knew somethin’ was going to happen. I felt it in my bones.

KITTY Nonsense, Sir Denis; it must have been the rheumatics you felt.

DONAL
That’s all well and good, but what about the match?

KITTY
Spare yourself the trouble of trying to make a match
for me.

DONAL If you don’t hold your tongue, I’ll be put to the bother of lockin’ you up in your own room, and feedin’ you on promises until your spirit is broken. That’s the only way to treat a contrary, impudent creature like you.

SIR DENIS
Let there be no crossness on my account, Donal.

DONAL Well, I have carefully considered what we were discussin’ last week, and I have decided to give three hundred pounds, twenty acres of rich loamy soil, without a rock, a furze bush, or a cobble stone in it, five milch cows, six sheep, three clockin’ hens and a clutch of ducklin’s. Provided, of course, that you will give the same. That much should be enough to give my daughter and your son a start in life. And I may tell you that’s much more than herself and myself started out with. Well, Sir Denis, is it a bargain or is it not?

SIR DENIS No two people could get a better start, Donal. But it isn’t in my power to come to any settlement until herself, I mean Lady Delahunty, arrives. She is up at the dressmaker’s, and should be here in a minute or two. [Knock at the door. Kitty opens and Lady Delahunty enters. She is dressed in a new sealskin coat, black dress, and white petticoat and a badly fitting bonnet. Mrs. Corcoran is greatly impressed with her appearance and offers her a chair.

MRS. CORCORAN AND DONAL
Congratulations, Lady Delahunty, congratulations.
Be seated, be seated.

[Mrs. Corcoran draws her chair near Lady Delahunty and while Donal and Sir Denis are talking, in an undertone, Mrs. Corcoran speaks.

MRS. CORCORAN
That’s a beautiful new coat, Lady Delahunty.

LADY DELAHUNTY (proudly)
Fifty-five guineas.

MRS. CORCORAN
’Tis worth more.

LADY DELAHUNTY
So Sir Denis says.

MRS. CORCORAN (stoops and feels the edge of the lace petticoat, which is well exposed) That’s the nicest piece of lace I have seen for many a long day.

LADY DELAHUNTY Two pounds ten, and a bargain at that. And three pounds five for my bonnet makes sixty pounds, fifteen shillin’s. Not to mention what I had to pay for Dinny’s, I mean Sir Denis’s new suit and tall hat.

MRS. CORCORAN
You could build a house or buy two fine horses for
that much.

LADY DELAHUNTY
Indeed, and you could then.

DONAL Now ladies, we must get our business finished, and we can talk after. I am offerin’ three hundred pounds, twenty acres of land, five cows, six sheep, three clockin’ hens, and a clutch of ducklin’s, and want to know without any palaverin’ or old gab, whether or not yourself and Sir Denis are prepared to do likewise.

KITTY One would think that I was a cow or a sheep, myself, going to be sold to the highest bidder. But, thank God, I’m neither one nor the other. I have a mind and a will of my own, and I may as well tell you all that I will only marry the man who I will choose for myself.

DONAL Every one of the women in ten generations of your family, on both sides, said the same, but they all did what they were told in the end, and you will do it, too. You will marry the man that I will choose for you, or go to the convent or America. And believe me, ’tisn’t much of your own way you will get in either place.

KITTY
I will marry the man I want to marry and no one else.

SIR DENIS
Maybe ‘tis the way she is only teasin’ you.

DONAL
No, ’tis her mother’s contrary spirit that’s in her.

MRS. CORCORAN
Not her mother’s, but her father’s, contrary spirit.

DONAL Enough now, I say. I’m boss here yet, and I’m not goin’ to let my daughter, whom I have rared, fed, clad and educated, and all that cost me many a pound of my hard earned money, have a privilege that the kings, queens, royal princesses and grand duchesses themselves haven’t.

MRS. CORCORAN
Wisha, don’t be losin’ your temper, Donal.

DONAL ’Tis enough to make any one lose their temper. If that sort of thing was permitted, every dacent father and mother in the country would be supportin’ some useless son-in-law, and his children, maybe. The man who marries my daughter must be able to support her as I have supported you.

MRS. CORCORAN Erra, hold your tongue. I never ate a loaf of idle bread in my life, and always supported myself, and earned enough to support you as well.

DONAL I’ll have no more of this tyranny in my own house, I say.

KITTY Well, well, for goodness sake! What is all this nonsense about? I have already told you that I will marry my own man and no one else.

SIR DENIS Now, Donal, when we come to consider the matter, perhaps, after all is said and done, maybe Kitty is right. You know, of course, that we all like to have our own way.

DONAL Do we, indeed? Maybe ‘tis the way you are tryin’ to back out of your bargain.

LADY DELAHUNTY He isn’t tryin’ to back out of anythin’, Donal. But as we were sayin’ to-day when we heard that His Majesty, the King of Great Britain and Ireland, Australia, Canada, and India, as well. (Looks at Sir Denis who is trying to light a clay pipe) Ahem! ahem! Sir Denis, Sir Denis.

SIR DENIS (bored)
Alright, alright.

LADY DELAHUNTY Didn’t I tell you never to leave me see you with a clay pipe in your gob again? Where are the cigars I bought for you this morning?

SIR DENIS (searches in his pocket and pulls out a cigar) Wisha the devil a taste can I get from one of them. I might as well be tryin’ to smoke a piece of furze bush.

LADY DELAHUNTY Taste or no taste, put that pipe back in your pocket. What would the King and his daughters think if they saw you suckin’ an old dudeen like that?

KITTY ’Tis little bother any of us are to the King or his daughters, either, I’m thinking.

DONAL I’ll put a padlock on that mouth of yours, if you don’t hold your tongue.

LADY DELAHUNTY Well, as I was sayin’, when His Majesty so graciously honoured Sir Dinny and myself, we held a long and lengthy consultation and came to the conclusion after a good deal of consideration, that it might be as well not to hurry Finbarr’s marriage. We were thinkin’ of sendin’ him across to England to finish his education: so that he may be able to take his place with the foreign aristocracy.

SIR DENIS Of course, we all know that there is no better hurler in the whole country, and no finer man ever cracked a whip, and no better man ever stood behind a plough, or turned cows out of a meadow, but the devil a bit at all he knows about the higher accomplishments of the nobility.

LADY DELAHUNTY Such as playin’ cricket and polo, and drinkin’ afternoon tea with a napkin on his knee, like one of the gentry themselves. And between ourselves, he cares no more about cigarettes than his father does about cigars.

SIR DENIS Notwithstanding all that, ’tis my belief that after six months in England, he would be fit company for the best people in the land.

DONAL What the blazes does he want learnin’ to play polo for, when he must make his livin’ as a farmer?

LADY DELAHUNTY
Listen now, Donal, and be reasonable. When

DONAL
Is it the way you want to break off the match? The
truth now, and nothin’ else.

LADY DELAHUNTY Of course, we don’t want the match to be broken off. But now that Finbarr is heir to a title well, we all know that Kitty is a very nice and good girl; but as Sir Denis says: “’Tis a pity that we should force people to marry against their will, and ”

DONAL The long and short of it is that my daughter isn’t good enough for your damn, flat-footed clodhopper of a son. Though ’twas Dinny himself that forced the match on me.

LADY DELAHUNTY (indignantly)
Sir Denis, if you please.

SIR DENIS Donal, Donal, be reasonable and agreeable, man. You should know that people are never the same after royal favours have been conferred on them. And though I am perfectly satisfied with myself and my social standin’, such as it is, yet, as you know, we must look to the future of our children.

DONAL Well, of all the old mollycoddlin’ bladderskites that ever I listened to, you beat them all.

SIR DENIS Restrain yourself, Donal, and leave me finish. Well, I was about to say, when you interrupted, that when Finbarr has learnt how to behave like a real gentleman, and can hold a cup of afternoon tea on his knee without spillin’ it all over himself, then he may aspire to higher things, and want a wife who can play the violin as well as the piano, and speak all the languages in the world also.

DONAL Wisha bad luck and misfortune to your blasted impudence, to cast a reflection on my daughter, and she that can play twenty-one tunes on the piano, all by herself and from the music too. And she can play the typewriter as well, and that’s more than any one belongin’ to you can do. ’Tis well you know there’s no more music in the Delahunty family than there would be in an old cow or a mangy jackass that you’d find grazin’ by the roadside.

KITTY Tell him all I know about Irish, French, and German too, father.

DONAL The next thing I will tell him is to take himself and his bloody tall hat out of my house and never show his face here again.

LADY DELAHUNTY
I’m surprised at you to speak like that to Sir Denis.

DONAL
Sir Denis be damned, ma’am.

SIR DENIS (as he rises to go and requests Lady Delahunty to do likewise) Lady Delahunty, if you please.

[A loud knocking is heard at the door. Kitty opens and Constable Dunlea enters. As he stands by the door, he takes a letter from his pocket.

CONSTABLE (to Sir Denis) This is a message for you, sir, from the editor of the Examiner. The postman couldn’t find you at home and asked me to deliver it, as he knew I was coming here to-night.

[Sir Denis excitedly opens the letter and Lady Delahunty looks on with apparent satisfaction, as she thinks it is a personal letter of congratulation for Sir Denis. Sir Denis borrows Mrs. Corcoran’s spectacles and reads the letter hurriedly and looks very crestfallen.

LADY DELAHUNTY (with a look of surprise)
What’s the matter, Sir Denis?

SIR DENIS
What isn’t the matter would be a better question.
’Twas a mistake, Anastatia, a sad and sorry mistake!

LADY DELAHUNTY
What’s a mistake?

SIR DENIS Ourselves! I mean we weren’t knighted at all. The editor of the Examiner sends his personal regrets and apology for printin’ an unofficial telegram that was sent by some malicious person about myself being created a baronet.

LADY DELAHUNTY (grabs the letter and spectacles. Adjusts the spectacles on her nose and reads. Swoons and falls into Sir Denis’s arms) The saints protect us all! ’Tis the truth, surely!

MRS. CORCORAN (gets a glass of water and gives it to Lady Delahunty) Here, now, take this, and you will be soon all right again.

LADY DELAHUNTY (as she recovers, turns to Kitty) I suppose ’twas at your instigation that all this happened. You impudent, prevaricatin’, philanderin’ galavanter. Now we will be the laughin’ stock of the whole country. If Sir Denis

DONAL
Plain Denis, if you please, ma’am.

LADY DELAHUNTY (to her husband)
If you had only the good sense of refusin’ the title
itself, but

SIR DENIS
We’ll never be able to live down the shame and disgrace
of it, Lady Delahunty.

DONAL
Plain Statia Delahunty, if you please.

LADY DELAHUNTY (to Kitty) If you were worth the weight of yourself in gold and could sing like a lark, I wouldn’t give Finbarr to you now.

KITTY I never asked for him, ma’am. I told you all that I would marry only my own man, and here he is. (Calls Constable Dunlea to her side and takes his arm) We are to be married next month, and then what need I care about titles or the aristocracy when I will have himself to support and protect me while he lives, and his pension if he should die, and the law of the land at my back all the time.

CURTAIN