Drinking Poteen On A Cold Winters Day

Some years ago I went with a friend to a remote farmhouse high up in the Ox mountains...I can't remember the reason behind the visit now, though it doesn't much matter.

It wasn't far off the Christmas and it was snowing heavily...big fat flakes settling on the narrow winding roads...then we turned off onto a rough track to the farm. Bumping along, with my friends old car protesting all the time, we eventually reached the house...half-thatched...half-slate tiled, it looked like something straight from a Christmas card.

We were welcomed into the kitchen...warm and cosy with a great turf fire in the hearth and the table laid for the tea...soda bread and pickles...jams and boiled eggs and a fruit cake sprinkled with rough lump sugar.

Granny and Grandpa sat at the table...Grandpa dozing and Granny reading the local paper...there were two Collie dogs lying under the table and a collection of cats curled up on the battered old settee. We moved the cats along and sat down and heaved a sigh of relief we'd arrived...

There must have been a dozen children...at least...maybe more. All foxy headed and all curious to see these two strange women who'd come to visit. They sat on the floor and on the arms of the settee and at their Grandparents feet.

The Mother came in and made us tea...cut the soda bread and buttered it...thick slices of the cake and a hard boiled egg each...told us her man was away up country but would be home soon enough and we sat by the fire and ate our food and drank the scalding hot tea and our feet were finally warm and we listened quietly while the Angelus bell rang out loud and clear on the radio...

Then I sneezed.

And the Grandpa shot to his feet and grabbed his stick and said 'You'll take a drop...for the cold?' and I said I would though I hadn't the faintest idea what he was about to give me...

He disappeared through the door to the back yard and came back ten minutes later carefully carrying a tall glass filled three-quarters full with a clear liquid. Handed the glass over to the Granny, who put two big teaspoonful's of sugar in it and topped up the glass with water from the simmering kettle.

I sipped it gingerly...it tasted lovely actually, though I still didn't know what it was...the children watched me and the Grandparents too...the Mother smiled and told me that cold would be gone in no time and my friend nudged me and said in a whisper...You lucky so and so...it's proper poteen.

And I drank the lot.

We'd been there long enough and the snow was still falling so we began to say our farewells and thank you for the tea and the dogs crept out from under the table and put cold noses in our hands and then I made to stand up.

My legs wouldn't work and the room went round and around...but I made it out to the car and we wended our slow way home down the mountainy roads while the world turned into a magical land of snow.

I didn't get the cold that was threatening to appear and I didn't have a hang-over either.

21 Replies

  • Oh! Vashti you have a knack of a story teller from way back when you remind me of my great gran Neula and yes she was one for a drop of the 'ole poi-ton in fact it made her speech clearer but some of the songs she sang when she got worse the wear I would not even dare reiterate on this site I would be slung of.

    May the road rise up to meet you and may you be with us for sometime yet I just love the way you relate your memories, thank you.

  • Good for Neula! I'd have loved to have heard her singing...lol

  • I got one or two slaps for singing along with her but I never knew the words they were in here native tounge

  • sorry tongue

  • When I had my first bout of pleurisy, some Irish friends gave me some poteen. It was the first thing that eased my pain! Wonderful stuff.

  • It's still used for practically every ailment here...in the countryside anyway...glad it worked for you!

  • Think you enjoyed that v

  • Whatever gave you that idea...lol

  • Sorry about the earlier blog. Wondered where it went!! A senior moment I'd say.

    What a lovely scene you create and there's nothing quite like the hospitality of the country folk or should I say mountain folk. There's always a welcome on the mat.

    I can see the snow covering the mountains and the countryside, (especially in the moonlight). You could hear a pin drop in that stillness. We were like hillbillies then playing late in the snow until we were herded in for milk and into our freezing bedrooms.

    Think you really enjoyed that visit Vasti and so glad you weren't driving! I'm sure you didn't know what that clear liquid was what with living in Ireland and all! I've had holes in my boots from it!.

    Joking! Could never bear the taste.

    Thank you and keep posting.


  • They were lovely people actually...probably exceptionally hospitable even for here.

    I honestly didn't have a clue what it was...lol

  • Oh vashti what a lovely story, it brought an feel of excitement to me whilst reading it, like when I was a girl reading my famous five and secret seven; I could almost have been there. Thank you June x

  • Thank you June...that's a really lovely compliment...

  • Really enjoyed that story. Keep posting, love it.

  • I'm pleased you liked it...and thank you

  • What a wonderful story, you really have a way with words, you should be a writer, but maybe you are? I can imagine the scene and almost feel I am there. You should put a little book together of all your anecdotes, I'm sure it would be a best seller, I would certainly buy it. Keep on posting, I look forward to reading your memories, they brighten the day.


  • I write you see, because talking out loud makes me so breathless...!

    Thank you...for the lovely comment...I think I can find some more to write about for a while yet...lol

  • Now vashti, don't be shy - where can I get some of that poteen from? Sounds like really good stuff to me and what a wonderful way you have with words and story telling. Have you thought about putting all this down in a book? Could be the makings of a best seller. Looking forward to hearing more. Take care. xxxx

  • Well...first you have to find someone who has an illicit still hidden away from the Customs men and the Guards...lol

    A book? Not sure...it sounds grand...I'll have a bit of a think about it.

  • You do that vashti and keep posting. xxxxxx

  • Vashti, I think I could do with this wonderful potion, as I am starting a cold! What wonderful atmosphere, scenery adn people!

  • oh vashti what a lovely tale, you took me with you , you have a lovely way with words . Should be a writer . xx Thank you xx

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