The divine inspiration for patrons in Killarney’s Speakeasy bar, to place a bet, came from a woman whose identity has not been revealed.
She reportedly “told anyone who was prepared to listen” to have a 50-1 bet on a certain Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of whom they had never heard before.
Several of the Kerry pub’s customers took the inspired tip for the Argentinian, whose name had not been mentioned among the frontrunners for the papacy by seasoned Vatican watchers and pundits.
“The woman came into the bar around 12.30pm on the day of the papal election,” said pub manager Gavin O’Donoghue. “She said she had got a text message and asked to pass it on.”
Gavin declined to disclose the woman’s name, in accordance with her wishes.
“She just asked me for a tenner and I didn’t know at first what the money was for. I thought it might have been for a bet on a horse trained by the Killarney man, Jim Culloty, running in Cheltenham.”
Gavin collected €500 on his €10 stake and reckoned up to a dozen customers had bets ranging from €10 to €20 in the Paddy Power offices just across the street.
A Paddy Power spokesman said they were baffled by the flutter and described it as the best tip during Cheltenham week.
“Even people who are very close to the scene in Rome can’t accurately predict these things because when the cardinals go into conclave all bets are off and nobody knows what’s going to happen,” added the spokesman.
The sight of white smoke billowing from the roof of the Sistine Chapel that evening was greeted with more than usual anticipation in The Speakeasy.
“We were waiting for what seemed like a long time for the white smoke and excitement started to build as soon as it appeared,” said Gavin.
“Then a massive cheer went up after the new Pope was announced and the celebrations began.”
The identity of the woman and how she got the information continues to fuel local speculation.