RTÉ's popular Fortycoats (http://labhaoisenidhuibhir.blogspot.ie/2012/10/born-in-80s.html)
Johnny Forty Coats was a Dublin vagrant who was so named for his habit of wearing multiple overcoats regardless of the weather. Francis Mc Manus, writing in an obituary for him in the Irish Press in February, 1943 described him thus, "Winter or Summer, he dressed as if he were living in some blizzard-stricken spot within a stone's throw of the Arctic Circle. He wore innumerable overcoats - perhaps he himself forgot how many of them there were! - until he was encased and layered like a fine onion."
Another snap of Forty Coats from February, 1943 (Independent Newspapers)
Forty Coats cut an odd figure traipsing the streets of 1930s and 1940s Dublin but he was well regarded and well recalled. Apart from his gentle eccentricity, his only apparent vice was his habit of spitting on the floor of the cafés that would allow him be a patron. He seems to have been particularly popular with the children in the neighbourhoods he wandered. McManus, again writing in that 1943 obituary,
I take it that "dekko" means a look at but it's not a term I've come across before. Pete St. John, writer of such perennials as The Fields Of Athenry and Dublin In The Rare Old Times, referred to Johnny Forty Coats in the chorus of his song about the Dublin of his youth, The Mero. The song also references Bang Bang, another still fondly remembered Dublin street character.
And we all went up to the Mero,
hey there! Who's your man?
It's only Johnny '40 coats',
sure he's a desperate man.
Bang Bang shoots the buses
with his golden key.
Hey! Hi! Diddeleedai,
and out goes she.
Forty Coats gets several mentions in the papers in 1943 and it appears that he passed away sometime that year. However, despite the appearance of an obituary for him it isn't at all clear to me that he did indeed shuffle off then. For example, having published an obituary for him the Irish Press ran a short story, a retraction of sorts, headlined "Forty Coats Is Still Going Strong" later in February, 1943, which includes some extra biographical information on the man.
Mentions of Forty Coats trail off in 1943 but his name appears in passing in articles in 1944 and 1946. If anyone has further information on the man please leave a comment.
Johnny Forty Coats, sans hat, 1943 (Independent Newspapers)