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800px-WCR Moyasta station

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The West Clare Railway was the topic of Percy French's song "Are Ye Right There Michael, are ye right?" (written in 1902), deriding the poor timekeeping and poor track quality of the time. Though amusing, some complained that this jesting nevertheless did little to further the cause for keeping the line open. French wrote the song after successfully prosecuting the railway company for loss of earnings, when a late running train prevented him from attending a performance on time. The company, in turn, appealed the ruling, but French was over an hour late for the court hearing in Ennis. He informed the judge that his lateness was because "I took the West Clare Railway here, your honour". The railway company's appeal was unsuccessful.

Many myths have arisen concerning the Percy French incident. The facts are that French had arrived in Kilkee four-and-a-half hours after the scheduled time for a show he was due to give at Moore's Hall on 10 August 1896. He had been due there at 3.25 pm, having begun his journey at Broadstone Terminus in Dublin that morning. The show was late starting as a result, and with a much reduced audience. French won his case at the Ennis Quarter Sessions in January 1897, and was awarded £10 plus expenses. The Clare Journal’s headline for the court hearing was, 'An Hour With Percy French “free of charge”'. The case has since been re-enacted by the Corofin Dramatic Society at Ennis Courthouse.[1] His award was subsequently upheld in a reserved judgment when the railway company appealed the case two months later at the Clare Spring Assizes, before HL Chief Baron Palles, by which time French had the germ of a song in his head: the line, ‘If you want to get to Kilkee, you must go there by the sea’ was repeated in court although it failed to make it in the song’s final version. The Railway had a disastrous policy of defending litigation. In another case heard on the same day as the Percy French case, Mrs. Mary Ann Butler, from Limerick sued when she was struck by an ass on the Railway platform in Ennis.[2]
800px-WCR Moyasta station

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