Paul Rimstead column on Shillelagh O'Sullivan, March 8, 1977
PAUL RIMSTEAD - Toronto Sun Columnist
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column first appeared in the March 8, 1977 edition of the Toronto Sun.
I was sitting, minding my own business yesterday in Ajax when suddenly this very large paw landed on my shoulder.
"How are ya Rimmer," the guy said.
"Well, I'll be dammed," I said, "if it ain't old Shillelagh O'Sullivan hisself."
He stood there like a tent.
Shillelagh's real name is Pat McMahon and he's an Irish guy.
Maybe you read about him here a few years ago, when I was his manager.
I got this call from a singer named Don Sullivan -- a damn good singer, I might add -- who said he had a friend Pat who was a professional wrestler.
We got together for a few drinks.
Well, to be honest, a few more than that.
The first step was to phone Frank Tunney and his crowd -- Tooney's Loonies, Ted Reeve calls them -- and arrange for a rassling engagement.
He got us a bout with a guy almost The Reever's age -- Lee Henning.
We immediately formed an entourage, including Don Sullivan, my pal Johnny McNamara and Donny Sinclair, the little man who is a singer-shoe shiner at The Brunswick House.
"We need a robe for him," somebody said.
"I've got a bathrobe," said Shillelagh.
"We mean a special one, with your name on it," I said.
The Tunneys, of course, run wrestling here, despite interruptions from the odd pretender, and their place of business is Maple Leaf Gardens.
"You definitely need a bathrobe," another guy said.
We put our heads together.
There was a very empty sound.
"Miss Adlersparre," somebody shouted. How's that, from bringing back names from the past?
Christine Adlersparre (I can't remember how to spell it), was my next-door neighbor, a spinster schoolteacher who liked to sew.
She has stopped sewing, however, and changed her name from Adlersparre to Kelly, since she married this guy named Tom.
Anyway, Miss Adlersparre bought some material, laid it out on the floor and measured Shillelagh for a new robe.
It was magnificent and so were the rest of us as our group moved down the aisle of The Gardens.
Everything was perfect, except for the fact that Donny Sinclair had trouble with the steps and Shillelagh, whom we had never seen in action, was a better boxer than wrestler.
After four or five bouts, Mr. Tunney decided, wisely, that we were not going to become main events.
He made that decision after our first bout and then made the announcement after Shillelagh broke a guy's nose, trying to land a friendly elbow smash.
"What are you doing now?" I asked Shillelagh yesterday in Ajax.
We retired, you see, after our short run at The Gardens.
"Same thing," he said, "Wimpey Construction. I'm drivin' a truck, but, I happen to be laid off at the present time."
"How's Bernadette and the kids?" I asked.
"Great," he said. "We just bought a house out here."
The last time I heard from Shillelagh, he said he was writing a book.
"Oh, that," he said. "I never finished it. Besides, they want it typed and everything and I was writing it with a pen."
"Well, what are you doing?" I asked.
"I'm going to be a comedian," he said.
"You're going back to wrestling?" I said.
"No, a stand-up comedian," he said. "I've been doing some of it, you know. As a matter of fact, I'm at Charlie Farquharson's out here tomorrow night at the amateur contest."
I have not heard Shillelagh's routine.
But if it's as funny as his wrestling, he must be funny indeed.
(I don't mean that as criticism, Shillelagh. After all, you're a lot bigger than me.)
Nov. 2010: The ballad of Shillelagh O'Sullivan
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