Local government buildings in south Louth flew their flags at half-mast this evening as the Headless Horseman of Collon announced his retirement. It brings to an end continual service dating back to 1651 when the Horseman took up employment in the bleak aftermath of the Cromwellian invasion.
Collon’s most famous son is thought to have been an English cavalry dragoon executed for desertion during the 1649 Siege of Drogheda. Two days of mourning have been announced for Collon to process this fundamental shift in the very fabric of their existence. National schools and local businesses will close.
The Headless Horseman announced his retirement on Twitter early this afternoon and gave a hint to his future endeavours by letting it be known he would be open to consultancy work in the haunting arena. The Horseman Himself is generally a quiet and reserved type though can be prone to bouts of unpredictable and violent rage, thought to be a side effect of his gingerness and a bitter falling out with the Headless Monk of Collon over Parnell’s morals in the wake of the Kitty O’Shea affair of 1890.
Plaudits flooded in from around the county. None more so than from the Louth football team. Louth will pay their respects to the Headless Horseman in their opening Allianz League Division 3 fixture away to Fermanagh next week by playing in a headless fashion. Corner forward Jim ‘Blackie’ Judge, maintained that the motivational speech the Horseman gave at a training session in Collon woods the week before the 1957 All Ireland Final played a huge part in victory that day. Blackie is hoping to draw from those memories as he faces a Fermanagh side in decline. “I’ll get 1-3 for Him, you wait. I’ve got a T-shirt printed to wear under my jersey already.”
A retirement reception for the Horseman is to be held at Mattock Rangers GAA club on the last Friday of this month. The reception is to be alcohol free after the disturbing events of 2001 (his 350 year anniversary) that left the Horseman both headless and legless and the population of Collon terrorized as He galloped through the village drunkenly scything down all in His path. No quarter was given.
Louth County Council are hoping that replacing the Headless Horseman will not be the difficult task it has been in previous years. The Horseman’s predecessor eloped in 1636 leaving the woods unhaunted for 15 years. Louth County Council had been aware that personal difficulties between the Headless Monk of Collon and the Headless Horseman had come to a head of late. With the Horseman nearing retirement anyway, it was an open secret that He would go before long.
The County Council had contacted the Headless Horseman of Beaulieu to see if he could split his time between the two woods. But union rules prevented it. This would explain the Council’s moving quickly to announce a recruitment competition for the position of Head Headless Horseman only an hour after Twitter exploded with the news. Potential suitors are encouraged to tweet @louthcoco with a brief outline of how they are suited to the role. Application forms can be downloaded from the Louth County Council website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The centuries old post comes with host of benefits, including:
- Subsidised accommodation.
- Stable fees.
- Free Gym membership.
- Travel allowance.
- Tax credit based on hauntings per year.
- Performance related annual increment.
- Chance to avail of EU Headless Horseman Cultural Exchange Programme to Eastern Europe.
- Free Pitch & Putt at Collon and Tulleyallen courses.
- Costume allowance.
- 12 days paid holidays.
- Free entry to Storm Nite Club
- Own a horse and possess a haunting licence.
- Display a willingness to haunt all ages, sexes and creeds.
- Be a member of the National Union of Headless Horsemen.
- Be physically headless – a thorough physical examination will be conducted by the county physician. Notional headlessness not accepted.
- Have three honours in the Leaving Certificate Examination or equivalent, one of which must be mathematics – records will be checked and candidates not meeting set criteria will be disqualified and haunted.
- Be available for emergency hauntings during the Headless Monk of Collon’s holidays to Monaco.
Canvassing will result in disqualification. The successful applicant will undergo a 25 years probation period.