News from Nelson: First Cat

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SmokeyDear Friends and Fellow-Sailors!

When I was an Admiral in the Navy I was famous for my attention to detail.  Before we embarked on a campaign, I reviewed the manifest for each of the ships, to make sure that nothing had been overlooked. And sometimes there was: the appointment of a Ship’s Cat – many of my captains did not realise how important this was.  So I would send out a message to the local cat community saying: Ship’s Cat needed – adventurous lifestyle guaranteed – lots of delicious vitels – Champion Mousers only need apply – Pussycats not required.  This produced lots of applicants, enough to provision every ship in the fleet.

Well you can imagine how delighted I was to discover that Dublin once had its own First Cat!   This was the aptly-named Smokey, a tabby-cat in two shades of grey who belonged to Lord Mayor Joe Doyle and his wife Peggy.   When the Doyles moved into the Mansion House they were worried that Smokey wouldn’t adapt to living in such a large and busy residence – but all was well.  Smokey appointed himself as Major-Domo of the house.  Every evening he would sit on the landing waiting for the front door-bell to ring. He then began to descend the stairs at a stately pace so that the visitors would stop and exclaim: ‘Look, it’s a cat!’  Smokey then allowed himself to be petted and only when the visitors had moved on into the Oak Room would he scamper up the stairs again to the landing, ready to greet the next guests.

Smokey the cat

Like all cats, Smokey had his territory and this was the Mansion House Garden.   Every morning without fail, he would sally forth to patrol the garden and if weather permitted he would take a snooze in the sunshine.  Duty done, Smokey would climb the front steps of the Mansion House, sit outside the door – and wait patiently.  Sure enough, some kind person working in La Stampa across the road would see Smokey and telephone Peggy Doyle saying ‘Lady Mayoress, your cat is outside your front door, waiting to get in!’

The Mansion House, DublinSmokey has long since departed to the Great Cat-Basket in the Sky, but his memory lives on in a fine book about the Mansion House – containing his story and many others - which has been published by Dublin City Council and is available from all good bookshops.

Wishing you all a fair and following wind in 2017!



Nelson's HeadAbout Nelson's Head

The Head from Nelson’s Pillar is on display in the Reading Room of Dublin City Library & Archive.  As Admiral Nelson is a valued member of staff, we have invited him to write his own monthly blog.


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