Stories of illicit distilling


A chara, – I enjoyed the stories by John Horgan (An Irishman’s Diary, October 19th) and Keith MacCarthy-Morrogh (Letters October 26th) about illicit distilling in Ireland and abroad.

Not all local distillers, like the woman in John Horgan’s story, encountered understanding enforcers of the law. However, even officers fully intent on stamping out local distilling, were not always a match for their adversaries. In the early 1900s a farmer on the shore of Derriana Lake in Iveragh, Co Kerry was caught by RIC officers with a large quantity of treacle — an ingredient in poteen making. He said that it was for his cattle.

The officers said that they would not believe him unless they saw this happening.

The wily farmer poured all of the treacle into buckets and offered it up to his cattle, who had never before tasted the substance. They lapped it all up with relish and licked the buckets clean. Not only was the alibi established, but the evidence was gone. – Is mise,


Waterville, Co Kerry.