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Cape Breton Humour



A sister of the bard Alasdair mac Eoghainn Bhain was on her deathbed and the priest came to administer the Last Rites of the Church.  He told her that if she hoped to be forgiven her sins she should first forgive anyone that she had a grudge against.

“I have no resentment against anyone, “ she replied, “except Peter Smyth, and I’ll not forgive him for all his wrongdoing!”

The priest tried to reason with her, saying, “Even when Christ was dying on the cross He forgave the Jews for their treatment of Him.”  

“That’s all very well,” she retorted.  “The poor Jews didn’t know what they were doing but Peter Smyth knew very well what he was about!”  (From the Gaelic of Alex Angus MacEachern, Creignish)





Hillsdale, or part of it, was once known as Beinn Noah.  Supposedly, this is how it got this name.

It’s told that Donnchadh Mor (Big Duncan) MacMaster was making his way toward Hillsdale when he was overtaken by Peter Smyth in his fine buggy.  Peter was on his way to foreclose on an old woman at Beinn Noah and he hoped to get sme information from Donnchadh Mor.  After several roundabout questions Smyth asked him if he knew this woman.

“Yess, I do,” said Donnchadh Mor.  Just then Peter Smyth pulled off at a small brook to let his horse slake its thirst.  While the horse was having its drink Smyth asked MacMaster what the woman’s land was like.

Donnchadh Mor pointed to a tiny patch of grass in the midst of a crop of boulders below the road.  “That iss about the size of her pasture, “ he said.

Somewhat deflated, Smyth inquired, “Oh, and what is the rest of her place like?”

“Just like that, except there iss more rocks,” volunteered MacMaster.  In fact, they call this Beinn Noah because it wass here that himself dumped the ballast from the Ark!”

Peter Smyth, convinced he was wasting his time, immediately turned his rig around and headed back to Port Hood.  Donnchadh Mor, pleased at the result of his ready wit, continued his way on foot.  (As told by Duncan Jim MacDougall, Judique Intervale)





Domhnall Eoghainn Duinn had a devastating wit in spite of being a bit of a hunchback, or perhaps because of it.  He used to stock up occasionally at a store in Port Hood.  After a particularly long absence, he showed up and began to make his order.  Before buying anything he would check the price of the item with the clerk at the counter.

“Wasn’t this flour cheaper the last time I was in?” he asked.

“Yes,” was the answer, “But it’s gone up.”


The same happened with almost everything he asked about and he was rapidly getting in a foul mood.  When the time came to total it all up, the clerk tried to lighten things up by teasing him a bit.  “Donald,” he said, “what’s that lump on your back?”

Quick as a flash, Donald replied, “That’s my arse, it’s gone up too!”





Father Donald MacPherson was death on on the stills or ‘black pots’.  He used to go on trips to hunt down and destroy rhe stills, even beyond his parish boundries.  On one such mission he was unsuccessful and he happened to meet Domhnall Eoghainn Duinn on the road.     

“What are you doing these days, Donald?” said the priest.

“Not much of anything, Father,” replied Donald.  “There’s not much work anywhere.”

“Look here,” declared Fr. Donald, “I’ll give you five dollars if you’ll find me a black pot.”

Domhnall considered for a moment and then suggested, “You know, Father, you can get one cheaper than that at the tinsmith’s!”  (As told by Johnnie MacDougall, Judique Intervale)





            Father Donald MacPherson would often be asked to write letters for illiterate parishioners.  He had done this one day for Donald Brown Hughie (Domhnall Eoghainn Duinn) and, when finished, asked Donald if there was anything he should add.  Donald said, “Yes, put please excuse the bad writing.” (As told by Duncan Chisholm of Port Hood)


N.B. Donald MacInnis (Domhnall Eoghainn Duinn/Donald Brown Hughie) was from Rear Judique Intervale.  He was a bachelor and a “character” who went from house to house in the Creignish/Judique/Port Hood area, doing odd jobs in return for bed and board–”a lttle time here and a little time there” in his own words.

Roger MacIntyre, Dougald Rob MacEachern and John Alex MacEachern were by the Glendale church one Sunday morning before mass. It was a fairly dirty day
after a snow storm when they noticed someone moving. It was Angus Boyd on his way to church surmounting a big snowbank at the end of the driveway. Angus at the time was in his eighties. Roger said to him, "God Angus, you're tough, you
could stay home from church after a storm like that."  Angus replied, "If getting to heaven was as easy as climbing that snowbank, he'd never have to worry."

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