A campaign to outlaw witch-ducking in parts of Ardboe by 2017 was met with disapproval from many quarters yesterday.
The little-known law, which was endured in the area for over 500 years, is planned to be repealed within the next three years by the courts, but met stiff opposition from locals who were disappointed at the news. The practice involves lowering suspected witches into Lough Neagh whilst strapped to a seat.
“When the elders is the area decide that someone has contravened our local bye laws, that’s when we turn to The Stool”, explained village chieftain Methusala O’Neill. “It’s grand for dispensing law and order, or just for when we’re bored and after a bit of craic. Last week there was this wummin from the Mullan Road who wouldn’t stop playing Hugo Duncan. On and on and on it went, for at least five minutes. Maybe even more. She went in The Stool. No messing. Looked like a drowned rat when she came out. And the thing is, we all love Uncle Hugo round here”.
“And it’s not just the wemmin by the way”, he continued. “Men can go in the ducking stool. We’re very modern that way. Lucksee, just last week John Joe Quinn from the Ballygillen Road went in The Stool for having bandy legs. Everyone agreed they were fed up lookin’ at them. Up and down he went. Three times. Mighty”.
But controversial Ardboe man Hugh Loughran thinks it’s time for the practice to be stopped.
“I’m fed up with it. You should see the crowds. They’re mad for it. Out in their thousands. It’s like Philomena’s turned up. This ducking business is out of date. If people want entertainment why can’t they just do a local Strictly Come Dancing, same as everyone else?”
Questioned whether or not witch-ducking was a practice that belonged in another century, O’Neill was quick to respond.
“We’re not savages you know. Nobody gets drownded. Calm yerself. We always make sure they’re safely strapped in when we send them to the bottom of the freezing Lough waters. We’re very health and safety conscious round here. They always get a towel when they come out. It’s a bit like water boarding combined with a trip down the water slide at Dungannon Leisure Centre. And probably just as cold”.
Maureen Reilly, a self-confessed witch from Ruskey Road, said,
“I’d be devastated if they took The Stool away. It’s the only way I can get cheap eels as long as I’m quick. It’s part of the way of life round here. You can feck off with yer mobility phones and yer teleradios. Leave the stool alone. They’ll be wanting to outlaw our iron maiden next. Jaysus”.
In other news, Donaghmore is expected to outlaw tickle torture next year.